Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Friday..err Tuesday.

With the short Thanksgiving week today is my Friday.  Here’s a jam to get your week or weekend going.  (This song rules, and is super fun to AudioSurf.)


Needed to add another video by this band.  Bloc Party.  Listen to them NOW!

The Mad Typist Book Club

My friend The Mad Typist has decided to start a book club.  Come read with us.  The first book: World War Z by Max Brooks.  Click here for more info.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Zombies Ate My Weekend.


This Thursday my wonderful girlfriend Finch gave me an early Christmas present.  She bought me Value Software's newest release "Left 4 Dead".     I've been slaying zombies and having one hell of a time doing it. 

Valve is quickly becoming one of my favourite developers, and I think it is safe to add "Left 4 Dead" onto the growing list of grade A level titles from them.   Left 4 Dead is a truly compelling and engrossing experience.  Placing you right in the center of your own personal zombie apocalypse Left 4 Dead delivers a white knuckle experience from start to finish.   In Left 4 Dead Valve has created a game that is wonderfully simple in it's complexity.  What Valve has basically created here is a shooting gallery.   You and your three teammates travel from one end of a map to the other while killing zombies.   The brilliance of that game is that on top of that simple premise has been built one of the most compelling shooting galleries ever.  

Left 4 Dead can be brutal.  When playing on the higher difficulties one truly begins to believe that the AI Director has a personal vendetta against you.   The true brilliance of Left 4 Dead is the AI Director system.  The AI Director controls your journey determining the locations and numbers of zombie spawn that you will face.    It also controls the appearance of the various "boss" zombies.  Zombies that have special abilities all designed to make your trip as unpleasant as possible.   Start doing well, and the Director will compensate to match your performance.   I really find this system to be wonderfully implemented.   Every play through of the games 4 campaign feels fresh, and the fact that your fates are being decided by the some times sadistic AI Director ensures that you never feel safe until the final credits roll.

The game is gorgeous.   The game takes you through back alleys, forests, rail yards and even a cubical farm that may give Dilbert nightmares.   The game has a general film grain feel to it, playing up the over all aesthetic that you are playing a cheesy Zombie movie.  The zombies that are constantly at your heels are well done, and do change appearance to fit the locale.   While there is a good variety in the look of the common zombies, you do spend a lot of time killing them, and you kill a lot of them and the models can get repetitive.  

The game can be played solo, with the computer (quite competently) controlling your three teammates.  However, the real fun of the game come from playing online with other players controlling your fellow survivors.   To succeed in Left 4 Dead team work is a must.   Part of the challenge of the game  comes from adapting to and playing with your teammates. 

I think that if I have issues with the game, it may be the lack of weapons available to the survivors.   In terms of guns there really are only six to choose from.   A few more options would have been interesting.   Along with the desire for model diverse models for the common zombies would be my two only complaints.

Left 4 Dead is currently available for both the XBox 360 and the PC.  This weekend I had the chance to play both versions quite a bit.  If you are looking for a recommendation of which one to get I would recommend the PC version.  Aside from the typical PC advantages such as online molding communities and the old Keyboard and Mouse argument the game is worth getting on the PC because it is a much better looking game on the PC.  My would rate my PC high middle end in terms of specs and there is a dramatic difference between the game on 360 and on my computer.  Draw distances are much farther, which can be a life saver.  Also I often found maneuvering in the dark on the 360 often times disorienting.

"Left 4 Dead" is a game that I would recommend to anyone.  The game is not exactly scary, delivering more of a nervousness then anything else.  That being said there are quite few moments in this game that will give you a start.  The game is very violent and does not pull punches with the blood.  However, the gore would be considered tame by horror movie standards.   I don't think you'll regret it if you check this game out.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Buffalo Architecture on Display

Thanks to Finch for this.

If you’ve ever been to (or lived in) Buffalo NY, you no doubt are aware that my home city has a great but often times neglected architectural history.  The television show “Ghost Hunters” has even visited one such landmark recently when they explored the abandoned Buffalo Central Train Terminal.  (Ghost Hunters will apparently revisit the site in May of 2009 as well!) The New York Times just ran a great article about the architectural history of Buffalo and the grass roots preservation efforts surrounding some of Buffalo’s fantastic landmark buildings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Make a bet with someone who has ready access to Photoshop.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Right on Point...

No further comment required.  Thank you Keith Olbermann.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


My new girlfriend is beautiful.



Friday, November 7, 2008

Hello Friday!

It’s been quite a long week.  t least finally, Friday is almost here.  Not that I have any serious plans this weekend, but it is really nice to know that I don’t really have any plans.  If that makes sense.  This has certainly been a fun and interesting week.  I think today I finally recovered from the Obama Election Night rally in Grant Park.   (Man I must be getting old.)

A few thoughts have sprung to mind in the wake of the most recent election.  Thoughts such as…

  • Tuesday night’s outcome, I do truly believe was the best possible out come.   Not only, because I believe that Obama will be able to steward our nation in the correct direction, but one added bonus that Some people have not thought about, is that it might actually be a good thing that McCain will not be the President, but still retain his Senate seat.   I’ve said before, that I have long held John McCain in the highest of regards, and I do think that he is one of the true patriots of our country.   Over the course of this election campaign I do not think that we’ve been seeing the real John McCain.  Now that the election is over, and he is no longer in the thralls of his campaign “advisors” I hope that we see a resurgence of the fiery maverick that used to be John McCain.
  • Sadly, this election was a bit of a “one step forward one step back” affair.   Great strides were made on behalf of African Americans with the election of Obama.  I certainly never thought that I would see that happen prior to this election.   That would be the step forward.   Sadly, another embattled segment of our population saw a major set back in it’s own quest for equal rights.   With the passing of Proposition 8 in California and the adoption of  similar pieces of legislation in many other states across the nation, I think that one can now safely make the argument that “Gay is the New Black.”   Anyone else find the fact that at least in California the high turn out of Black and Hispanic voters who were there to vote for Obama was one of the main reasons behind the passing of  Proposition 8  a tad bit …interesting?   My heart truly goes out to the individuals who do not have the freedom to define their own families now because of these pieces of legislation.
  • If you have not seen this week’s episode of “South Park” you really should.  It’s wonderfully funny.  Matt and Trey are right on point with their mirror on our society once again.

On a final note…let me send you out on your weekend with this…

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After…

Last night Barak Obama was elected to be the next President of the United States of America.  I was there first hand to witness this historic event along with 240,000 other people who descended upon Chicago’s Grant Park.   Of the great events that I have been able to witness in my life none will live with me more then last night.   America made me proud last night, and more importantly, my generation made me proud.   As I have spoken of before, I felt that with this election, it was time for the younger generation of Americans to step forward.   That we did.  Just looking around me in the crowd the diversity of the faces and people I saw was astounding.   A lot will be written about how historic the election of Obama is for African Americans.  I’m not black, so I really can’t say much about that.  What I did see yesterday, was the confirmation that the American Dream exists, and that there is a place in our country for all people no matter the race, creed, sexual orientation, whatever.  If you want to be here and make a difference yes  you can.

I took some pictures last night and I’ll share them.  Sorry, I only have a crappy camera phone so most of these pics kind of suck.

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I saw the America I believe in.  Not on stage at the center of Grant Park, but in the thousands upon thousands of people all around me.