Archive for October 2007

Ever need to hide something? Just Staple it to a Video Game Manual

October 29, 2007

Recently I had the sudden, random urge to play the Sims 2. I bought the Sims 2 a little after it was released and also own two of the current 113 expansion packs available for it. I had uninstalled it from my computer so I would have more space, so I was going to have to re-install all 7 or 8 disks.

I popped in the first CD and began the installation, only to have the game ask for the CD key. Of course, the CD key was not on the CD itself. It wasn’t even on the game box or CD case. It was on the game manual. Now anybody who owns several video games will tell you buy a video game, 3 things almost always happen.

Step 1: You open the box
Step 2: You read the manual
Step 3: You lose the manual forever

I had taken step 3 about 2 years ago, so there were about an infinite number of places that it could be located. Game Manual Technology (GMT) has dramatically increased over the last few years, so much that the newest game manuals are actually biological lifeforms, and as soon as you open the box they will jump out and skitter across the room, looking for a place to hide. I suspect that government officials hide their top-secret documents by simply stapling them to a video game manual and setting it on their desk, confident that in a few minutes the manual will be gone, never to be seen again.

Normally when I open a new video game or appliance box, I take the following measures:

1. Grab the manual
2. Put glue on the back of the manual
3. Stick the manual to some cardboard
4. Staple it a few times, just to be safe
5. Use a Nail gun to nail the cardboard to a sheet of steel
6. Weld the sheet of steel to a rectangle column granite that I had piledrived into the underlying bedrock and anchored there with 16 concrete blocks.

Now most people reading this are probably saying things like, “That’s way too much effort for something like a game manual” and “You can’t weld steel to granite” and so on, but thats the price you have to pay nowadays to keep a manual safe. However, when i bought the Sims 2 I followed the “read manual then lose it” method, so my manual was nowhere to be found.

After hours of searching and hanging up “Lost: Sims 2 game manual” posters around the neighborhood, I gave up. I suspect that in 3000 years, explores walking through ancient mine shaft in Africa will find a crumpled booklet of paper on the ground, and they will all stand around asking each other what “The Sims 2” is and exactly how the hell it ended up in a mine shaft in Africa.

When I was putting the Sims 2 CD #1 away, I noticed that I was also somehow missing the 4th CD, so I wouldn’t have been able to install it anyway. If anybody is willing to donate a Sims 2 CD #4 and a non-lost Sims manual, please let me know. Also before you send it, please make sure to secure the manual in a small straightjacket and put it inside a vacuum-sealed bag.

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On the Road to Vista

October 8, 2007

Remember to keep you eyes on the road; you don’t want to crash. (rimshot)

Unless you have been living in a drain sewer for the last 5 years, you probably know that Microsoft has released its new operating system, Windows Vista. Microsoft announced its plan to release Vista several years ago under the catchy slogan;

“Windows Vista: Welcome to the Future of CompERROR 005: SLOGAN NOT COMPATIBLE WITH VISTA.”

The announcement was met with an Uproar of Approval from the public, followed shortly after by a Groan of Frustration when the public realized that it had not saved the document that it was typing when the power went out. Vista gained even greater publicity when its “Speech-to-Text” program was given a public demo test. Everybody watched in awe as the spokesman “Steve” asked out loud for the computer to type, “Dear Grandmother, how are you doing today?” and the computer responded, “Steve, you don’t have a grandmother. She died 2 years ago.” This was immediately followed by a little animated paper clip popping up and stating, “It looks like you are having some trouble accepting this loss. Would you like me to find a 4-step program to help you overcome your grief?

Haha, of course something this interesting or cool did not happen. Instead, when asked to type “Dear Grandmother, how are you doing today?”, the computer typed something along the lines of, “Deer Gram Cracker, I has a school bus for dinner todayyychnnng..,,!$3^v”. Microsoft called the demonstration a “complete success” and quickly renamed the program, “Speech-to-Garbled-English.” Over the coming years new Vista features were introduced to the public, each more fascinating then the last. One of these features allow you to “parade” all your open programs and windows by in a little animated flipbook, providing HOURS of entertainment to the easily distracted. This includes me.

Friend: Hey, you working on your project?

Me: No, but come look at this. I opened 250 internet explorer windows. Look at them all flash by! Isn’t that cool!?

Friend: I guess… How much of your project do you have done, anyway?

Me: I haven’t really started… Hold on, one of these windows has what my project topic is. Crap, they’re flashing by too fast for me to read.

Friend: What!? You’ve had 2 months to do it and it’s due in 3 days!

Me: Ok ok. Computer, type “The effects of global warming on the Spiny Lobster population.”

Computer: “Three frets go warm > October *yarg |_0b573r 3.1459”

Warning: Reading the following may make you incompatible

As you are reading this, you are probably dying to run to the store and buy Vista so you can parade your internet explorer windows around. Before you do that, you should download “Windows Vista Compatibility Advisor”. This is a tool that checks all your hardware and programs installed on your computer and lets you know if some of them will not work with Vista. Sometimes a couple minor things will not work; for example, here’s my Compatibility Adviser results:

Windows Vista Compatibility Advisor has found that following programs/devices will not work once Vista is installed:

– Weather-Channel storm warning popup

– Audacity version 1.2

– “Math Blaster: Blast Off to 3rd Grade Math!” Video game

– Your printer

– The paper in your printer

– Your mouse

– DVD drive

– Your secondary hard drive

– Your chair

– Solitaire and Minesweeper

– Windows Vista Compatibility Advisor

So as you can see, there are quite a few important things that won’t work with Vista. I can do without my mouse and printer, but how the hell am I going to learn 3rd grade math without that video game!? There is a little sticker on my laptop that says, “Windows Vista Compatible” but apparently the little sticker is the only thing on my computer that will actually work once Vista is installed.

But don’t let that discourage you! Who needs things like printers and CD drives when you can parade your folders and internet browsers back and forth! Now let’s get to the next step: actually buying Vista.

Gotta Catch ’em All!

Microsoft originally designed Vista as one operating system simply called, “Windows Vista”. However, they realized that they were making it too easy, so they split up all the features and accessories into different versions of Vista. This means you could buy one version of Vista and realize after you install it that it doesn’t have what you wanted, so you have to go buy another version with different features. Microsoft calls this process, “Guess, Check, and then Pay us More Money.” Remember those old Pokémon games where some Pokémon were only on one version, while some were only on the other, so you had to buy both versions in order to have them all? (Because you NEED to have them all, damnit). Well Vista is kind of like that, only much more expensive, plus your Vista features can’t shock each other with lightning or shoot fireballs from their noses. All the Vista versions are listed below, along with their features and cost.

Vista Standard Edition

Features: Has everything except anything that you might consider cool, interesting, or useful

Cost: Low

Vista Business Edition

Features: Watches what you are doing and reports when you are slacking off or viewing pornographic sites to your boss.

Cost: Medium

Vista Millennium Edition

Features: Appears to be good because it has the word “millennium” in it, but it’s actually a trick and nothing works.

Cost: Medium-High

Vista Super-Deluxe Amazing Ultimate Banzai Power2

Features: Uses a potent combination of 3.0GHz processers and OxiClean to quickly perform tasks and remove tough stains. Call within the next 15 minutes and we’ll throw in TWO free copies of Windows 95! That’s a $2.00 value, FREE! 1-800-525-5555

Cost: 37 easy payments of $29.99 Allow 2-8 months for shipping.

Grande Mocha Frappuccino Ristretto Vista Edition

Features: Vista served with a shot of espresso mixed in with chocolate and topped with whipped cream.

Cost: $5.99

Vista 300bit Edition

Features: This is compatibility… It can Dual-Process! Dual-Process…?

THIS… IS… VISTAAAA!!!! This version is so great, it kicks Mac computers right down a bottomless well.

Cost: A mix of loyalty and blood

Vista Quasi Omniscient Omega Edition

Features: Uses the power of quantum computing to bypass normal thresholds of space and time, allowing you to save and print documents before you even write them and receive error messages from programs that haven’t yet been installed. Safety not guaranteed.

Cost: Hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus your soul.

Vista Utter Crap Edition

Features: It’s basically XP, only you give Microsoft more money and most of your programs don’t work.

Cost: Low

Unfortunately due to my budget, I will only be able to afford the Utter Crap EditionTM. The only reason I haven’t gotten it already is because the Vista Compatibility Adviser keeps telling me that several important programs, along with my face and multiple other aspects of my life, are not compatible with Vista. I guess that’s kind of a good thing though; if I had already gotten Vista, I would be too busy parading back and forth through my open windows to write this article! So what are you waiting for? Go to the store, pick up Windows Vista and enjERROR 005: CONCLUDING SENTENCE NOT COMPATIBLE WITH VISTA.

Making Amazing Music in FL Studio

October 1, 2007
Yeah, I wish. More like, “Making sub-par tunes that some people might not spit at”

So, a few months ago I picked up FL Studio XXL. I had become interested it in FL studio (also known as “Fruity Loops”) when I learned that a user on a site that I frequently visit used FL studio to make some great sounding music. I then did some extensive research, meaning I went to You-tube and typed in “FL Studio”. What I found was a few videos of some guy apparently starting up FL, throwing a few notes in, and ending up with a great sounding song in less then 10 minutes. I was shocked; it looked easy to use, required little time and effort, and required no history or background in music or composing. It was perfect for me! Several days later, I had FL Studio installed and I was ready to make my first great masterpiece.

Reality is like a sack of bricks being swung at your face

After opening up FL, skipping through the “if you’ve never used Fruity Loops, read this first” tutorial (which in hindsight was a bad idea), and starting a new blank project, I was finally ready to begin. I selected what instruments and samples I wanted to use, set a drum loop, and arranged notes in the instrument’s “piano roll” in such a way that I thought would sound good. 4 minutes and 15 seconds later, I had a respectable, decent sounding tune.

Haha! Of course I am joking. 4 minutes and 15 seconds later I had what sounded like a recording of me filling a room with various frogs and toads, and then stomping around the room while banging on a metal pan. If I had closed my eyes and just randomly clicked around to select the notes, it would have pretty much sounded the same, if not better. In fact, my computer itself seemed almost angry that I forced it to render the horrible noises, and threw in a few clipping and scraping noises as well. My plan at making movie-quality music with little time, effort, or knowledge of the program had, shockingly, failed. I considered suing Fruity Loops for false advertising, but seeing that I got the program from a Torrent site in the first place, I decided not to.

The long, ugly-sounding path to becoming less horrible

After several hours of experimenting with FL I steadily improved, in the same sense that a brutal serial killer can “improve” into a guy who just occasionally kills people. By the end of the day, my music quality ranged from “Horrible Ear Rape” to “On Hold with Tech Support” to “Mildly Unpleasant, Please Make it Stop”. It occurred to me that since I had no background in music or music composition , shockingly, I didn’t know what notes sounded good together! So I did what any other respectable, aspiring artist would do: I stole somebody else’s tune.

I mentioned in the beginning that a guy from YTMND originally got me interested in FL Studio. His name is Keaton, and after browsing around his site and listening to several of his awesome songs, I found one that seemed relatively easy to replicate. He called it “Climb the Musical Ladder” and it pretty much consisted of 4 notes played over and over while slowly adding in different instruments, eventually sounding pretty damn sweet. My version sounded significantly less sweet than “pretty damn sweet”, but at least it wasn’t offensive to listen to anymore. It could confidently be labeled as “something that you would rather listen to over getting beaten with a blunt object”, which is more then I could say about my previous works.

So now that I’ve created a mediocre tune based off of somebodies good tune, I can start making original songs, right? Wrong! Being able to copy another person’s work and make something that sounds similar hasn’t changed the fact that I’m have about the same amount of talent as a non-vascular sponge when it come to creating original music. Actually becoming good at that would require a lot of time, effort, and possibly musical classes, so I’ll just go with my original choice: re-creating other people’s music. Hopefully I will suddenly have a musical epiphany and be struck with the knowledge and ability to create good music right off the bat, but that might take a while. If you are ever walking around and suddenly hear what sounds like a combination of a cat and a chalkboard being put through a food processor, that would be me. Walk away, quickly.