Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Since this is Christmas eve, I hope everyone is enjoying their time away from work. For those of you lucky enough to get Rock Band in Canada, I wish all your drum pedals break! JK :) I wasn't lucky enough to find one, despite the hard searches. But I'm confident I will own one before the year ends. However, I am going to try and level to 40 before I have to return to work on Jan 2. I hope that the 100G my friend promised me will be a good enough incentive. Although I'm not hopeful about it. I wonder how many married gamers there are that fight with their spouses over when they get to play or stay up late. I personally have to get up and be out of the door by 7am at the latest during work days. And at this age, I require at least 7 hours of sleep to be semi-rested. Which means I have to be in bed and sleeping by 12am. This usually becomes a point of contention between my wife and I. She likes to sleep early and I like to stay up late. I have also come to realize that because I have troubles getting up early (and I mean a HARD time waking to my alarm), I feel guilty about staying up. If you think I should just man up and do what I feel, you obviously have not been in a long term relationship because that attitude will not get you anywhere with the women. So instead of playing games, which is the reason I was staying up, I read forum posts and look at websites. I believe that on a sub-conscious level I do other things so I won't have to justify doing what I stayed up to do in the first place. Anyway, I look forward to this holiday because I can finally just relax and not have to worry about staying up too late. I think there even maybe a few late night gaming sessions involved somewhere. I'll keep the blog posted and twitter will be updated with my WoW progress! For the Horde!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Two Teens Kill 7 Year Old Girl with Mortal Kombat Moves

What is wrong with society today? When kids get drunk and their natural instinct is to hurt someone more vulnerable than themselves. I have always advocated rules and laws against brutal behavior but the line is so fine between state control and good of the people that it's complete chaos. If you have ever seen the movie Idiocracy, you will know what I'm talking about when I say eventually, all the people on Earth are going to have the combined intelligence of an eggplant.

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Where's the F***ing Tree??

Merry Christmas everyone! Yeah, okay. I'll skip the pleasentries since I'm not a big fan of Christmas or, more accurately, what it's become today. I'm sure you've all heard the rants of other like minded individuals so I won't bore you. But rather I will explain my cyber absence since October. So my last few rants have been mainly about work so I'll continue the tradition: I quit my old job. Wait for it....And I got the same job, just at a different company. Remember that episode of Friends where Chandler quits his old job and then gets a new one, only having it be the same thing? Well, I'm doing the same thing but just getting more perks. Which is not to say that it's a bad thing, but it's not totally different. But I'm really looking forward to this year's Christmas time. It's going to be my first Christmas where I don't actually have to work! What are my plans? I plan on hitting level 50 in World of Warcraft, that's what! With the new experience patch active, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. /crosses fingers With the new job and trying to make a good impression, it's going to be tough to post. Well, it's not like I'm getting lots now anyway but I'll keep it short for now. I'm still planning on posting up those reviews I said I would, look for those before the year's end!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Death is a good motivator

You know those HR meetings where the bosses tell you that you must shape up, do your work well, work harder, and then gives you a reason why you must.


I just had such a meeting and the outcome is a very familiar sight. 


The difference between most companies is how you are compensated for taking the abuse and crap that is served to you.  Every company has crap on a plate that you are supposed to eat and love and say, “Thank you Sir, may I have more?”  The difference is how they treat you after it.  Similar to how you suck up to your wife or girlfriend after you just spend your month’s pay on the PS3 instead of taking her out this weekend like you promised.


Compensation is a tricky thing, because cash will only go so far.  The more money you have, the more expenses you have.  So you look for the silver lining in perks, such as flexible hours, friendly atmosphere, open doors, and company events.  These companies are very hard to come by unfortunately, and I have still to find mine. 


If you currently have such a place to work in, enjoy it and don’t lose focus.  Just remember, “if you are not being at least 80% productive, you are not make the company profitable”.


Wow, what do you say to that except, “Thank you Sir, may I have some more?”



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Logitech Z-5500 5.1 THX Certified Speakers Review

I am not an audiophile. I prefer the joy of sight over the joy of sound, so naturally, you will have to read the following review with that rather large grain of salt. With that caveat aside, I will introduce you to what my experience has been with PC speakers. In ascending chronological order, here are the speakers I have been listening to with my PC for the last 3 years:

  • Creative Cambridge Soundworks 5.1 surround sound system
  • Logitech X-530 5.1 surround sound system
  • Logitech Z-10 2.0 sound system
  • Creative T20 2.0 sound system
And now I'm back to a 5.1 setup. The move to a 2.0 setup actually coinceided with my moving out and getting married period, where we lived in a small 600 sq. ft. apartment and real estate was limited. I do like to game in 5.1 and have missed it, but I also enjoy having a clean desk with little clutter (my wife would disagree but that's another story). I was very happy with my T-20's and they performed exceptionally well for a 2.0 system. I chose to try out the Z-5500 because my friend owns the Z-680 (the predecessor to the 5500) and he absolutely raves about them. That and the deal site I frequent had found these on sale for $250 Canadian. The price was just too sweet to pass them up so I took the plunge. Setup: The subwoofer that comes with this speaker package is a 10" sub enclosed in a wood housing with amplifier and a large aluminum heat sink. The box the whole set comes in is rather large and it was a challenge trying to get in into the trunk of my Mazda 3. However, once it was home and I started to set it up, it was a painless process. The Z-5500 uses regular speaker spring clips and speaker wires for its connection. It's not hard to connect these speakers but it does take a bit of patience and wire stripping. Just make sure you either have a sharp utility blade or a $10 wire stripper from home depot. After you have connected all 5 speakers to their inputs on the back of the amp (sub woofer), you should connect the massive, wired, desktop remote. The remote does more than adjust volume, all the appropriate controls are on there with the audio inputs. You can select which input, effects, and speaker levels all on the remote with the help of a 2 line LCD display. Performance: The Z-5500 accepts a Dolby Digital signal with support for Prologic II decoding and DTS 96/24 as well. You can hook up the speakers using direct 6 channel connection, Digital Toslink, or regular stereo input. I used both the direct 6 channel and Toslink to test these speakers. As most games do not output a encoded Dolby or DTS signal, you are forced to use the 6 channel (green, yellow, black) for positional audio. But for movies, such as the Matrix, you can switch the input to Digital Toslink and allow the Z-5500 to decode the DTS or Dolby track for you. I currently run a 5.1 surround system for my main TV and I really enjoy the loud bang that comes with all 5 speakers firing. And let me say my only complaint about watching a movie with these speakers is that my office chair doesn't transform into a Lazyboy! These speakers are the echelon of PC audio there is no doubt. The sounds from them are very clear, with great separation and well defined lows. The only thing I would like is a more distinct bass instead of a steady rumble, it would be nice if the bass could vary a bit with more life. Gaming is a joy with the Z-5500. You get a great sense of position with them. Bioshock is positively freaking when you can tell which direction a Big Daddy is in just by hearing it from behind....brrrr. Conclusion: I am very pleased with these speakers. They could be had for cheaper come Christmas time I'm sure and with the boxing day and year end sales, you should be seeing regular prices fall closer to the $200 mark. $200 for a set of speakers is expensive. But if you are someone that uses their PC for more than word processing and more for entertainment, then get yourself some decent speakers. There's a reason the majority of people out there call PC enthusiasts geeks and nerds, it's because we spend all this time and money oiling and greasing silicon chips in a box. So if you are going to be putting a HEMI in a Toyota, make sure you give it a good intake and exhaust so it can sound like a monster too.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What it's like to be on top

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Americans need not apply, your's is coming soon enough. I was hoping that this long weekend would be more relaxing and offer some extra time to crack open that PGR4 sitting on my desk. But like much of the time, I had something else to do besides playing my games. I had to work. Don't misunderstand my position. I am not belittling those hard workers in the service industry that has to work on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays at minimum wage. I have been there before and it really grates on your nerves. But, I went to school, completed two degrees, and am now a professional. And why did I do all that? So I can have my weekends off and enjoy the successful life, or so said my University professor/counselors/social adviser. It's never easy to be at the upper echelon of professionalism. I am not a vice president of anything and I don't ever want to be. I am merely needed, just enough to require a long weekend work day, but not enough to be important. I'm not bitter, honest. I'm just wondering where the value in working your tail off is when mediocrity seems to be the battle cry for the majority of the work force. Well, I'll certainly chew on that for a while as I continue to show up to work this week, giving my 85.9% effort. Coming soon, reviews of: Logitech Z-5500 5.1 surround speakers, Spherex Xbox 5.1 speaker system, Creative Zen 8GB Media Player, Heavenly Sword - First Impressions.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


The weekend came and went, and I have to say, it was rather uneventful. Although I was able to log in about 2 hours of Team Fortress 2 on Friday night, it was not nearly enough as the rest of the weekend, I spent doing other chores. On a brighter note, I have complete the yard work required for this year in preparation of winter. The dog-run in the backyard is complete, save a few fencing and enclosures, which we will do next year.

TF2 was exhilarating as always and I was able to convince my brother-in-law to pre-order the orange box as well. He has always been a valve fan but has been devoted to Day of Defeat for longer than I care to remember. With the continued changes in that game, it’s become a completely different beast and he’s no longer enjoys playing it. With the introduction to TF2, he has found a new shooter that he can immerse himself into.

We also played a bit of Bioshock, and sadly to say, that game is NOT for me! I have never been a fan of horror games. Even the slightest amount of occult will cause me to lose sleep at night. I remember vividly when I first found this out. It was my friend’s 10th birthday and we were having a sleep over at his house. He had just received a brand new Castlevania game for the NES and we were all determined to play it through. And I too my turn playing Simon Belmont and things weren’t so bad. It wasn’t until the sun set and the music started to get eerie did I start to notice shadows moving and felt eyes on my back. I know, most of you will think I’m a chicken for getting chills from a 8-bit game. But just think, if I’m that freaked out by an 8-bit game then, how much more freaked out would I be with Bioshock! I was able to play through Doom 3, Quake 4, no problems. I never played system shock so I can’t compare but with Bioshock, that’s just one creepy game! My brother in law was just as freaked out as I was and we decided then that TF2 was much more up our alley. Which is too bad as I can see that Bioshock is truly an experience. Perhaps if I run through the game full powered....but that topic is for another time.

My next project, depending on time, is going to be the continued leveling of my World of Warcraft character. I have yet to take a character to 60 and I would love to experience some of the higher end content. We will see, since 2.2 patch apparently broke a whole lot of add-ons, I may not want to continue if I have to reset all my buttons again in the UI. That’s just not worth my time right now.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Press Start

With the weekend approaching, it would be an appropriate time to explain a bit with how my weekends usually pan out.  You hear lots of gamers out there, married or in a serious relationship (read: where you don’t ditch the girl because Team Fortress 2 was released), are able to have few hours long gaming sessions.  I personally have never truly understood how that can possibly occur. 


To clarify, I don’t have kids, nor do I participate regularly in team sports (I do play squash with my good friend twice a week) so I should technically have lots of free time to play games.  But somehow it is never seems like I can get more than 30 minutes of gaming in.  I do take care of chores at home, such as doing my part in cooking, cleaning, and playing with the dog (he’s high energy!) but the other part, I think, is my own habit of filling up my evenings with other frivolous things.  I have a routine.  I get home and prepare dinner/eat/clean up.  Then I proceed to read all the news in tech and games before I feel relaxed.  During this time, I’m also interacting with my wife, my dog, and all other manner of interruptions.  So what ends up happening is 9:30PM rolls around and I have yet to play one second of any game. 


After speaking to some of my other “attached” friends, I believe they do their gaming times in the late evening, when their spouses or significant others have gone to bed.  This is an option but my home office (funny how we call it that when we do maybe 1% of our work there) is upstairs so noise levels are an issue.  Our big screen TV is in the bonus room, which is on a direct sound path to the bedroom.  This choice in positioning was a mutual decision but it’s something I’m beginning to think may not be a permanent solution. 


With Autumn here and Winter in Canada being pretty cold, I should be able to stay in for more evenings and be better off playing some games than doing yard work.  But for this weekend, I am going to try something new.  I will vow to stick to my schedules, and allow for at least 3 hours of pure gaming, with minimum 1 hour intervals.  Let’s see how that goes shall we?


Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Small Segway

Ok, I didn't buy a Segway, or do I ever plan on doing so. But this morning, being the productive employee I am, I was checking the news on Extremetech and came on a story by Joel Durham Jr. on the current state of games. He touched on something that's been at the forefront of my mind this last 2 weeks, Halo 3. Now I'm not a fan boy of anything, and as you read the continuation of my first post, hopefully you will see that. But certain games I just believe are superior on certain platforms. Racing games are meant to be played on a console. Sports games are meant to be played on a console. Shooting games are meant to be played on a PC. You have probably been exposed to many points of view about this game already, and here are my two cents on the matter. Halo is mediocre. Mr. Durham wrote in his piece, "...just like television and movies, mediocrity pleases the gaming masses more than true inventiveness." I agree with this observation wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, the gaming masses are those that are purchasing consoles for under $500 each and are not even in the same category as those PC gamers that constantly upgrade, tweak, and care for their PCs. An analogy would be that the masses purchase Toyotas. Cars that are mass produced, gets the job done, and meets your everyday needs, where the connoisseurs of gaming are those that purchase BMWs and Massaraties. When Toyota introduced power steering and power windows, BMW owners wondered at what all the excitement was about. This was understandable as they were already using power windows and steering for the last 5 years. My purpose is not to advocate a particular attitude towards any genre or sect of gamers. In my mind, a true gamer is not one that discriminates but enjoys games at their core, fundamental level. This means that you do not limit yourself to any one particular genera, platform, or developer. I personally own all consoles ever made (I do now, and I again refer you to my forthcoming continued blog series for more information) and there are games I truly love on the consoles and games I truly love on the PC. Halo is just not one of them. I urge any of the deep Halo fans out there to broaden their horizons and try something else before playing their Halo 3 multiplayer maps to death. True, the Xbox 360 can pump out some impressive graphics on the right settings and immersion is quite realistic if you have the correct setup (read: 1080p and 7.1 surround sound) but on a PC, you can enjoy all those features and more with games that are 5 years old. Halo does not look any better than Prey does on the PC. Halo does not control better than Quake does on the PC. When id software completes their Quake Zero project, I believe console shooters will have a true competition. This will be the first, freely available, massively multiplayer (read: 64 players) online FPS, readily available to the masses with minimal hardware requirements (it runs from within a browser).

Go and read Mr. Durham’s article. He has many suggested FPS games with better narrative, more variety and better multiplayer options than Halo ever has.

Some Assembly Required

Welcome, dear readers, to the first bi-weekly posting of the Ikea Gamer blog. So what is an Ikea Gamer? The Ikea mentality is minimalistic for the sake of function and ease of use. You have an objective, what is the easiest way to get there with the least amount of cost to you? If you ask any student trying to furnish their dorm or rented rooms, they would undoubtedly tell you they are going to "Ikea the place". Such is the mentality of an Ikea Gamer. Some of us in this world were born to play. Be it sports, games, cards, toys, or instruments, these people were all meant to play. Some of these people are able to make a career out of it, pro-sports, pro-card sharks, game journalists, etc. But the majority of us are left with playing football with our friends on the second Saturday of each month for 2 hours, then hitting the bar before going home to clean the toilets and mow the lawn. For those of us in the latter scenario, I sympathize. I'm not a sports nut, I watch hockey time to time, cheer on my team, and even make it to a few home games during the season. I watch tennis on and off, and I play squash twice a week with my friend. But when it comes to video games, that's a whole different story. You see, my childhood was devoid of video games until my family immigrated to Canada when I was 8 years old. As a part of the bribe to lure their son to a foreign country and leave his childhood friends, my parents promised me a 8bit Nintendo Fami-Com system complete with a Disk Drive and 66 games. What they didn't tell me was that the system would require a power converter that wouldn't be available until 6 months after we arrived, and that 80% of the 66 games were going to be in Japanese. Myself being Chinese, this was, of course, unacceptable. But what is an 8 year old to do be accept that he is now in a foreign country, and he was the only black haired Chinese boy in his grade 3 class? So I did what most 8 year old at that time would do - play outside! This outdoors activities stage in my life lasted all the way into first year university when I was able to get a job and start to afford some luxuries in my life. At this time, I was already dating my wife so my minimum wage salary was divided into such: 50% tuition, 30% dates, 10% bills, 5% food, 5% entertainment. With that 5% budget to work with, I was once again deprived of any form of games short of a few rounds of arcade street fighter at the local Mac's (at $0.25, I could only play Street Fighter 2 and not the fancy new Capcom VS series, which required a significantly larger sum of $1.00). This trend continued well into my university education. I was finally able to afford my first real gaming system in my 3rd year of university. The Sony Playstation was the chosen system. At that time, many games had already been released and the hints of a Playstation 2 was already on the horizon. I realized I had a lot of catching up to do - but with work, school, and my girlfriend, I could barely spend time with my friends, let alone play video games. Sadly, this situation continues into today. What I hope to convey in this blog, is to share some of my views, as a married gamer about to turn 30, and perhaps release some of the stress of trying to balance a well rounded life at work and at home with a level 25 Blood Elf Warlock. Until the next post, have fun, enjoy the sunshine, and don't forget to multi-task!