Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Thoughts on the New iPad That Launches Tomorrow

Happy iPad Eve everyone. Tomorrow the iPad 3 comes out. Wait that isn't right. Let me try again. Tomorrow the iPad HD comes out. That still doesn't feel right. Hang on, I'll get it. Tomorrow the new iPad comes out...yeah that sounds about right. Congratulations Apple, you actually managed to simplify things even more. Before I give my thoughts on the new iPad let me just share my thoughts on the name new iPad. This has to be roughly what Apple was thinking: When people go to the store they want to get in, get their iPad, and run for the hills. How many people want to spend the time remembering iPad 2 and iPad 3 and not just being able to say 'I want the new iPad'. Well now, thanks to us you can!

That being said, the iPad page over at the Apple website lists the new features and in all honest their really aren't many of them. The first one added in is the retina display which makes everything a bit sharper. This may be the best possible part of the upgrade in my opinion because now the iPad can play video in 1080p. The innards of the iPad have also been improved so that the device now has quad-core graphics. There is a 5MP iSight camera that can record 1080p video, 4G LTE, and the addition of dictation software.

Out of all of those updates to the iPad I can't say it makes it quite an enticing buy for me. I got the iPad 2 in the last couple of months and I have been very happy with it's performance, the picture is clear, it's great for watching video and for the tasks I do. That being said if you don't have an iPad already I think the third iteration of the iPad is a great jumping off point. If you have an iPad 2 that still works just fine, I'd hold off on the upgrade until it's really worth doing.

As far as the 4G LTE goes that only effects a small group of iPad users anyway. Think about it: the iPad is sold in a wifi only model as well as a model that contains cellular data. If you don't plan on getting an iPad with cellular data anyway (seeing as it does cost a hundred bucks more) then that doesn't even begin to be something that's going to drive someone to want to upgrade. As I've said before, if you have a perfectly good iPad 2 it's probably best to just stay put. If, however, you are still running the original iPad on a day to day basis, now would definetly be a good time to trade up.

What are your thoughts on the new iPad? Sound off below.


As an extra for you all here is a video of what's on my iPad 2:

Monday, March 12, 2012

AT&T Throttling "Unlimited" Users

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that after two years of great service and lots of great memories-- countless photos, endless videos, and hours of Pandora streaming while gaming-- I am trading in my iPhone 3GS on the AT&T network for an Android device on the Sprint network. Never fear though: my iPad isn't going anywhere and I will still keep my 3GS around for App running, testing and reviewing, although now I am expanding my horizons. Maybe I should explain why though: 

Unless you have been living under a rock the last few months you probably heard AT&T was throttling users that had an unlimited data plan. Turns out doing something like that usually doesn't sit well with the customers who got grandfathered in to the unlimited data plans, like myself. One guy even went as far as to sue AT&T and he won! AT&T plans appeal the decision although I get this sinking feeling they won't be able to actually win said appeal. On March 1st, tech sites ran the news that AT&T set the official policy out for who will be throttled if you are a subscriber of the unlimited data plan. 

Below is the exact text from the AT&T page on the matter and here is the link if you wish to read it yourself: click here

If you have a smartphone that works on our 3G or 4G network and still have an unlimited data plan,
  • You'll receive a text message when your usage approaches 3GB in one billing cycle.
  • Each time you use 3GB or more in a billing cycle, your data speeds will be reduced for the rest of that billing cycle and then go back to normal.
  • The next time you exceed that usage level, your speeds will be reduced without another text message reminder.
If you have a 4G LTE smartphone and still have an unlimited data plan,the same process applies at 5GB of data usage, instead of 3GB.
You'll still be able to use as much data as you want. That won't change.Only your data throughput speed will change if you use 3GB or more in one billing cycle on a 3G or 4G smartphone or 5GB or more on a 4G LTE smartphone.

Forgive me, but I do take an issue to this. I  understand that a lot of you have the tiered data plans already so this doesn't effect you while others of you may just not use more than 3GB of data in a given billing cycle on your unlimited plan. Here's the thing: 3GB is the exact same amount of data that AT&T offers in their tiered data system and yet they also say that 3GB if you have an unlimited data plan is excessive. Let's take a look at the wording of the contract from 2007 that talks about data throttling.

"AT&T reserves the right to (i) limit throughput or amount of data transferred, deny Service and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network..."

The vibe I am getting from that is this: for AT&T to throttle your usage YOU need to be using EXCESSIVE data that slows the network for everyone. Just because AT&T has a network with more users than it can handle doesn't mean  that throttling it's users is the way to handle the situation. Based on this GottaBeMobile article Verizon is a little less crazy in the way they choose to throttle their users, which makes more sense. If AT&T were to adopt this policy I would still be sticking around, and switching to Sprint in my own time when I have the money for a 32 GB iPhone 4s. With the new throttling policies though I am willing to take a hit and switch to an Android device, as Sprint knows how to treat their customers. I'll never understand how a company can call 3GB excessive and yet offer a plan on tiered data with 5GB.

Have  you been effected by AT&T throttling? Do you plan to file a lawsuit? Do you know any good Sprint Android phones that aren't more than about 100 bucks with a 2 year agreement? Sound off in the comments below.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is Freemium Gaming the Way of the Future

Hello All,

I just want to start this off by saying I am sorry that there was no Wednesday post. It was my first day at a new job so that pretty much consumed my entire day and then Thursday was my lazy day. It's actually a good thing that I had work on Wednesday though, because I was having a chat with someone and they mentioned to me that they play a game on Facebook called "Marvel Avengers Alliance". I just want to get this out of the way now: I generally dislike Facebook as a gaming platform because most of the games involve asking harassing your friends to play the games so you gain items and experience and what not. I believe FarmVille is the tool of the devil used to help give people technology addictions (although to see what kind of a hypocrite I am, I play "Zombie Farm" and "Smurfs Village" on my iPad and iPhone on a regular basis although that's a story for another day).

Anyway, Wednesday night I decided to look into this particular game and give it a try. Turns out the game isn't half bad. When I did my research on the game it was described as a "freemium" game. This is a term that has been thrown around for quite a while. The most prominent example of freemium is games like FarmVille, as the game itself is free but there is premium content you can purchase to make the game move faster and gain upgrades. This got me thinking, could freemium gaming be the way of the future?

The short answer is maybe. You see, to me it seems freemium games seem to be mostly restricted to games like "FarmVille", "Zombie Farm", "Smurf Village", and the new EA title "The Simpson's: Tapped Out" which is currently out of the App Store due to insufferable server capabilities. Granted, not all freemium games are like that. One company in particular, Nexon, hit the nail on the head in my opinion. They offer games across a plethora of genres, from First Person Shooters (Combat ArmsSudden Attack) to Action, RPG, or Strategy. While Nexon technically bills their games as free to play, they are included in my definition of freemium. You get the game for free and then have the option to purchase additional content.

In order for this to really be a part of the future of gaming though, we need to see a few major changes come quick. First and foremost, we need to see a major developer get behind this. EA counts, but I think we might even be able to get bigger than that if we try hard enough. Second, and most important, we need an actual effort from the company making the game. Do me a favor: go click  on the link for Combat Arms, install the game, and play it. That's a hell of a multiplayer first person shooter that is costing you NOTHING to play. Just imagine if games for next gen consoles were made with the quality that pay games are at now, and then offered as a freemium model, instead of the current robbery model.

In short, I think freemium could be a way of the futures if more developers shy away from the current farm trend of freemium games. What are your thoughts on freemium? Do you think it is a good business model for the gaming industry or do you think it's a waste of time? What games would you like to see as freemium? Sound off in the comments below.

Until Next Time,


Monday, March 5, 2012

"The Walking Dead" Thoughts

Consider this sentence a spoiler alert. In this post I will be spoiling stuff so if you don't want the series ruined for you, read it after you watch the newest episode. 

First off I just want to say that the newest episode of "The Walking Dead" entitled "Judge, Jury, and Executioner" is, to me, the biggest tear jerker I have seen thus far. Instead of just talking about the episode like every other site on the web though, I thought that I would use this opportunity to tell my story of how I came to see TWD in the first place and what my thoughts are on some of the current characters and survivors. I guess the best place to start is the beginning. 

I've known about TWD for several years. I had seen collections of the comics in a local bookstore so I knew there was something involving zombies called "The Walking Dead". My knowledge on the subject didn't go past that. Then I was in the store one day and I saw a DVD of the first season for sale, which piqued my curiosity enough to get me to sniff around a bit about what the whole idea was. After doing some reading and talking around with friends I made the decision to watch the pilot episode of the series. If I liked it, I would press forward, and if I didn't then at least I could honestly say I saw the pilot and wasn't impressed. To give you an idea of my thoughts on the pilot let me put it like this: I watched it, and the proceeded to marathon the first season, as well as what has been done so far for season two so I could be caught up and follow the series like a normal fan. 

The show itself, as a whole, has blow me away. When I saw that the show aired on AMC I wasn't expecting a lot from it, mainly because AMC is a channel I associate with films like "The Godfather" and classic horror films in October, so to me the concept of them airing a modern original series was astounding. The fact that it was good was what really knocked me off my feet though. The visual effects on the show were one of the first thing I noticed. From what I can tell the walkers are played by actual actors although there are times when they actually move as if they are digital. I'm the kinda person who wants to get into the film industry so I am bound to notice things like that. Looking past the zombies even the gore of the show is done in a way that makes everything seem a lot more realistic than it should ever be. The writing on the show is the next thing that captivated me, especially in regards to depth of the storylines and character development.  The best part is that since it wasn't something I expected to be good, the fact that it was great was an added bonus. 

The one thing I was wary of was the actors of the show. I hate to be that guy but the bulk of the tv shows that I watch are older ones I grew up in or star actors I really enjoy. This show is neither. Looking at the cast list I just kept saying "Who? Who?". I'd never heard a single name before but I am beyond glad that that didn't stop me from checking it out because these actors definitely earn their paycheck every episode. The funny thing is that the show differs from the comic sometimes as far as who lives and who dies because of the difference in medium. In a comic if you kill a character off it's no big deal. You go on without him. You create someone to replace him. It's easy. With a show like this it becomes tenfold more difficult because you aren't just writing out a character but actually taking away an actors job. That leaves a large need for deaths to be more thought out and well planned for. That being said, I am caught up with the series and intend to keep watching it as it airs (although I have heard a lot of people bash the second season I think the show is still going strong). I figure the best thing to do now is just run down my thoughts on certain characters and situations. The original plan was to do this for all characters but that would just run way to long. Make Sure to head over to my profile and follow my twitter and tumblr pages, as I post a lot of musings about this stuff on there as well. 

*Rick Grimes- Rick is the star of the show. He's the whole reason the show moves forward. He's the protagonist and I like him as a character. He's not my favorite by a longshoremen but to me he's the underdog and he deserves all the support he can get. He wakes up in the hospital in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Let's be honest for a second: how many of you would actually try and find your family in the desolate nightmare the world has become and how many of you would opt-out? That's what I thought. 

*Lori Grimes- When Lori Was first introduced into the s dries I hated and despised her. Let me explain why: the first time you really get to know the character you see her kissing Shane. Shane was her husbands partner and best friend and the fact that the two of them could do what they did sickened me, especially knowing Rick was looking for his family and wanted nothing more than to find them again. That being said, after Rick found her and Carl' she showed remorse for her actions, she's admitted she made a mistake, and she has earned my forgiveness for her past sins, partly because she seems to be sincere, and partly because it would tear up Rick to lose his wife again. 

*Carl Grimes- With Carl things are reversed,  I liked him when he first came into the series, I really did. I admit that a kid in a zombie apocalypse is kinda pointless, but the character wasn't a total waste. Then he got shot by Otis. Then he learned to shoot. In the most recent episode I see shades of Shane developing in his character. I have no idea if it's because he's spent so much time with Shane or if it's just because that's what happens when you I've in the new world. Either way I don't like it. 

*Shane Walsh- This guy is fun. The first time I saw him I hated him for what he did with Lori but afterwards I decided to give him a second chance. Sadly that chance only lasted five minutes until he screwed up again. Every single time he screws up I want to forgive him but he always manages to get me to hate him again. I thought he was bad at first but I knew it for fact after he sacrificed Otis. Since then he's managed to lie to Lori and piss people off at various times. His shining moment of stupidity, though, was when he broke open Herschel's barn and unleashed a mob of zombies to be killed one by one. Since then I've wanted nothing more than to see him become an all-you-can-eat zombie buffet. 

*Dale Horvath- Unfortunately, last nights episode saw the end of Dale, but he was quite possibly my favorite survivor of the group.  In all fairness, Dale wasn't the most violent member of the group but he was the most human. He was the voice of reason and logic and he one who really wanted to try and salvage the new world with civilization. His death last night marks the end of that in my opinion.  Without him who will guide the moral compasses of everyone in the group? I also wonder how this will impact the pending execution of Randall, but more on that in a minute. 

*Glenn- Glenn is the last member of the group I have a strong feeling towards. When he first shows up in the series he risks his ass to save Rick despite not knowing him. To me that's a ballsy move and earned Glenn my respect. Further more, Glenn is the second most compassionate in the group, second only to the late Dale. On Herschel's farm he starts a relationship of sorts with Herschel's one daughter, Maggie. Herschel eventually excepts Glenn and gives him a pocket watch that has been in his family for generations. The new world is rough and brutal, but Glenn still managed to find someone to fall in love with. As much as I hate to say it, if the survivors move on, I hope either Glenn stays behind or Maggie joins them, as it will kill me to see Glenn get his heart broken. 

As for my thoughts on last nights episode and the remainder of season2? I'm undecided when it comes to Randall. On one hand I do understand that he is a bit of a threat, especially with a connection to a gang of thirty. I also believe that when faced with death a person will say anything possible to get out of the situation. On the other, Dale made valid points. He is a member of the living and he doesn't deserve death by association. I look at it a little bit like this: he tried to kill Rick. Rick saved his life. He is now endebted to Rick. Hopefully someone on the show will point that out. 

As for the last few episodes of the season I'd really like to see Merle turn up again and I'd also like to see Morgan make another appearance. How do you feel about TWD up to this point And what would you like to see happen? Sound off below in the comments. 

Until next time,


Friday, March 2, 2012

Be Who You Are

Last Friday I put up a blog post entitled "It Gets Better" that discussed bullying, cyber bullying, and my own experiences with those mediums. I planned to start a new feature either this week or next week where I write and post a fan fiction each Friday, though I am now debating doing that exclusively on Tumblr. Today would have been the first post but like the best laid plans, things change. I was on Facebook today looking at status updates from friends and "friends". One of my "Friends" put up a status that basically said they was walking through a local college cafeteria at a school I attended for the better part of a semester and that as they was walking they saw people playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, Marvel vs. (I wanna assume Capcom), and reading comics on their laptops. After that, they stated they closed their eyes because they didn't want to see anymore. My first instinct was to comment on the status itself, but I decided to back off because I didn't want anything I said to be taken as racist (people in my area can be twisted). Instead I decided to use today and this blog as a forum to speak on this topic a bit. 

First and foremost, I've shared my thoughts with people on this topic a few times but I feel this will be the most in-depth. Second, I ask you read with an open mind as my comments on this can get a bit out there, but I mean nothing offensive by it, racially or otherwise. 

To start this off I want to touch on bullying again for a second. One of the biggest factors that motivated my bullies in school was that I was an easy target. I grew up with very diverse interests and I'd like to share some of them now. I like science fiction, fantasy, anime, movies, books, theater, video games, technology, and a billion other things. I'd say none of that makes me a bad person or shows the content of my character, just how I like to amuse myself. 

Getting that out of the way, statuses like The one  my "friend" put up always irritates me. I was picked on for what I like after many told me to just be myself. Many others have experienced that as well. Picking on someone for what they enjoy is sick and wrong, and it really creates bad stereotypes for groups. This is where I start getting a tad edgy. I realize that I am white and after the last 400 years or so what I am about to do is taboo, but I need to start with the ghetto community. Understand I didn't say black. I'm not here to give a hard time to the African American community. I'm here to deal with the group that walks around wearing padlock chains as necklaces or their pants so low you can see their ankles above their belt loops. If this is generally how you act and your vocabulary contains words like "dawg" or "whazzup" you are most likely a ghetto individual that enjoys listening to rap music. Despite all the torment we geeks receive from that group you don't see us jumping down their throats about how they are wrong or less of a person for choosing to enjoy that style of life. 

The same thing goes to metal heads, I actually have a few friends who are metal heads and they are very nice individuals with hearts and souls, but then there is the group of metal heads that say f**k you all. If you don't walk around wearing black, chains, ripped jeans, vests, have long hair and a load of tattoos then you can't listen to our music, again this is something I see as wrong, I'm a geek and a nerd by nature, I listen to rap, I listen to show tunes, but I also listen to rock, hard rock, rock and roll, heavy metal, and thrash metal. I don't walk around looking like what you expect a metal head to look like and I don't mosh, but that in no way reduces my value as a fan to the artist. I'd really like to think the community of fans could think the same way. To those that agree from any fan from any group for anything, I applaud you. For those that don't it's sad that you need to have such a narrow minded view of things. 

My point is you shouldn't be ashamed of what you like or afraid to be who you are. No one has the right to tell you that you are wrong for what you like, so embrace who you are and don't be afraid to be yourself and express yourself. 

Sound off with your thoughts below.