Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pre-Walkthrough Cleaning

     So my current place has their walk-through tomorrow and I just busted my ass cleaning and burnt the crap out of my eyes and lungs from the massive amount of bleach. But i don't know what they hope to inspect 8 days before I actually have to be out of there. I mean, all my stuff is still here and in the way. Anyway, lets see if I can get any sleep this night, unlike the last.


New Lara Croft Title Intended For Digital Download In 2010 thumbnail
Crystal Dynamics, a part of Square Enix Europe, today announced Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, a new game developed by Crystal Dynamics, which will be released via digital download in 2010.

“This is a really exciting project for Crystal Dynamics, we have created something completely new and very different to what people might be expecting,” said Darrell Gallagher, General Manager of Crystal Dynamics. “Lara Croft is such an iconic character in videogames, with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light we have created what we believe is a truly original digital experience.”

Crystal Dynamics is an award-winning studio located in San Francisco. Founded in 1992, the studio has created and developed key game franchises such as: Legacy of Kain, Pandemonium, Gex and most recently the Tomb Raider series.
VIA Megagames

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Saga of a First-Time Homebuyer: The Scheme

     Alright, short post. Below are the official colors of the Frank Empire. If I were to make that a flag I don't thin kit'd look half bad. but in the center I might have a picture of a chorizo burrito in the center and pho', dry salami, mayonnaise, and a chili pepper at the corners.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sorry Japan, Microsoft Project Natal is for America

Microsoft’s belated disclosure of the space requirements for its innovative new Project Natal interface have struck many as being physically impractical for all but the large living room, with the controller demanding a “clear” space 4m (13 feet) deep.
The device (an Xbox 360 peripheral which uses sensors to interpret bodily movement) is said to require an area significantly larger than most other gaming devices, and more pressingly, larger than many homes or gaming areas can feasibly provide:
To be precise, you’ll want to clear an area extending at least 4 meters (a little more than 13 feet) away from the television.
That’s the back edge of the space to be taken into account by the Natal sensors.
In terms of width and height, the field of vision naturally expands as it moves from the Natal device to that back edge, ending up a little more than 4 meters wide and 2.7 meters high (about 8 feet, 10 inches).

Japanese gamers immediately noticed that this is larger than the size of all but the biggest Japanese rooms – as pictured in the below diagram, previously published by Microsoft during one of its more brutally frank moments:
Possibly this is a significant miscalculation on Microsoft’s part – a “clear area” 4m deep might be a reasonable enough expectation for an American living room centred on a large TV, but in urban dwellings throughout much of Asia and Europe such spaciousness cannot be taken for granted, and even if it could the hassle of clearing away intervening furniture each gaming session might be unappealing.
The 4m space requirement also rules out a significant number of more cramped bedroom and single room dwelling settings. Needless to say, a close-in “PC gamer” style setup with chair, desk and monitor/TV is completely out of the question.
It is not clear how well the unit will function in more confined areas, but it seems likely degraded operation will be possible to an extent. On the other hand, there are clear minimum and maximum range limits with Natal’s sensors which are unlikely to offer much leeway.
More pointedly for gamers (especially slothful ones), Microsoft’s gaming future apparently also involves a great deal of standing up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


A boy who was desperate to “power up” after watching “Transformers” started drinking gasoline in emulation of the mechanical heroes of the film, suffering permanent brain damage as a result.
The boy, a 14-year-old schoolboy living in China’s Sichuan area, apparently enjoyed good grades and was good with machines, perhaps explaining his fascination with Transformers.
His parents running a shop selling lighters, he found himself with ready access to lighter fluid, which he began covertly snuffing, in spite of being caught several times. Soon he progressed to filching gasoline in bottles and using the vapours to get high with.
All this apparently took its toll on his cognitive faculties, and soon he hatched upon a scheme based on his viewing of Transformers. Seeing that his mechanical heroes gained power from fuel, he too resolved to try this, and began stealing fuel in mineral water bottles, which he would drink habitually.
Eventually his theft came to light, and he was taken to see a doctor, where it was discovered that he could no longer perform simple sums and appeared to have developed a severe mental disability.
Doctors found him to have become addicted to gasoline, the lead content of which entered his body, causing brain damage. He was subsequently hospitalised in order to curb his addiction.
When asked why he imbibed the fuel, he said only “Because I wanted to power up.”
Via Heaven.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another Vipper Challenge!!

The Vippers once more threw down the gauntlet (to themselves), challenging all comers: “Make this image cool!” With the decidedly uncharismatic oyaji in question, captured in the midst of an exaggerated flying kick, this presents something of a challenge.
Fortunately, there are Photoshop masters at hand:

Xenogears Flashback

Who like the game Xenogears on the PS1? I did. Enough to do a really bad recording apparently...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Saga of a First-Time Homebuyer: The Layout

So the time is nearing and I'm getting a little over excited. I thought, man it would be cool to be able to plan out my wall colors and whatnot without having to buy samples and possibly screw everything up. Wait a sec, holy crap, I CAN! It took two days to finally get an idea of the color scheme, though the kitchen is still a toss up.

Shortly after I got the colors mostly sorted out I figured that I should start plugging in all the crap I have to figure out where everything might fit. The pictures above are far from fully furnished, but the essentials are there: TV, bed, couch/futon -- still missing another TV though.

Here are a couple of actual shots against my model:

Kitchen from Living Room


Chinese Cooking Oil “Made from Sewage”

Come on, China. Would you cook an animal one wouldn't normally eat in toxic waste and eat it yourself? ...Wait, don't answer that one.

The news that a tenth of all cooking oil used in China may be made from recycled sewage and laced with toxic contaminants has stunned China.
Originating from a report on a state radio station, the news that “Chinese are eating 3,000,000 tons of ‘recycled cooking oil’ each year, but it is 100 times more toxic than arsenic!” spread throughout China in a matter of days.
The cooking oil is apparently “recycled” from raw sewage taken from sewers and elsewhere, which is heated and filtered. After filtration the liquid is transparent and free of particulate matter, and can be rendered into cooking oil.
Fears over the toxicity of the recycled oil are high. Significant levels of aflatoxins have been detected, a poison said to be “100 times more toxic than arsenic,” and known to cause growth defects in children and cancer.
Viral and bacterial contaminants are thought not to be a problem, assuming the sewage-oil is properly boiled in preparation.
Despite the obvious hygiene and safety problems of using treated sewage in cooking, its usage is thought to be widespread, as the “recycled” cooking oil is all but indistinguishable from normal cooking oil, in all but one aspect – its price.
It costs only 300 yuan ($45) a ton to manufacture, half the price of regular oil, and it is said to be common use throughout China – estimates are that it constitutes a tenth of all cooking oil used in China.
Chinese food safety regulators, such as they are, launched an immediate emergency investigation, although it is not clear if they actually previously approved the activity.
China’s record on food safety is of course already utterly abysmal, but if as widespread as reported this could turn out to be the most damaging scandal to date, as cooking oil is an integral part of food preparation in China.
Nations importing cheap cooked foodstuffs from China may also be concerned that they have been inadvertently poisoning their children by trading with a nation in which regulation and business ethics are all but unknown.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Saga of a First-Time Homebuyer: The Search for a Lender

Two years. It took two years in this God forsaken housing market for me to find a property that could work for me. And it ended up being a small condo on the second floor of a low rise. Wait, don't congratulate or smack me down yet. There were many factors in my choosing of this condo. Though it wasn't exactly a "choice" in the deeper sense, more like a mutual truce. And so begins the story of me and my first home. (sound effect from the show 24).

So like I said, I've been looking for a place for two solid years before I came across this place. With all the houses around me foreclosing and selling like hot tamales in the snow in Mexico, (does it snow there?) I figured that it would be an opportune time for me to look for my very own place. The interest rates were down, I had some savings, and I'm pretty damn handy so fixer-uppers wouldn't be a problem for me. Not to mention, the company I work for deals with construction, mold, water damage, etc., so if needed I had someone to call.

The first thing I needed to do was figure out what I could afford, or rather, how much money I could convince a lender to let me borrow. That's what it really is folks. Anyway, so my agent tells me to get a pre-approval from a lender. Sure, that sounds fairly easy. What the hell is that and what do I do? I don't know what I'm doing remember? Eventually, with help from the internet I figured out that it was just a sheet of paper from a bank or lender saying, "We could probably let you borrow this much". At this point I didn't know squat about the different companies out there so I went the way of the couch potato and said to myself, "Hey, that there Lending Tree commercial says they'll hook me up with a bunch of folks". So that's what I did. I signed up, filled in some boxes and pretty soon I had 3 or 4 notices in my email. The info from my skillful box filling helped them figure out where I stood and what I could afford. After looking at the offers I picked the one with the lowest points charged(1 point = 1% of the total loan) and promptly sent a pre-approval request, per my agent. A day later I got an email with the attached pre-approval letter and forwarded it to my agent. That one sheet of paper that barely has half a page of type on it makes you look much better when you put in an offer against people who don't supply one. But don't let the rates on that letter lock you into believing those will be your final costs. Things will change like the Fed raising interest, or even lowering it, and changes by the lender because of certain conditions you fall into. One such example is that you may have a high income to debt ratio, meaning that the amount you take home comes awfully close to the amount of bills and other obligations you have to pay. Lenders like to see something not higher that around 30%. That's not to say that you should give up if you have a high ratio. 30% is impossible for most of us anyway. It just means that you fall into those conditions I was talking about that makes it more likely your rates/charges will change. Ask you potential lender for a GFE or Good Faith Estimate that will estimate your charges line by line so you know what you're being changed for. These usually show what is called PITI, or Principle, Interest, Taxes and Insurance costs. It's also a good idea to just to help show you what your estimated monthly mortgage(payments) might be at the specified loan amount. If you have a good agent, ask him or her to work these numbers a bit further to give you an even closer estimate. And when I say close, I mean close. Good agents will call up the title company and other organizations associated with the lender to get actual costs and plug them into a refined GFE. And if you know the property you want, the agent can refine it still further by getting HoA charges or other fees that might be included with your monthly payments. This greatly helped me figure out how much house I could afford -- or in my case, condo.

In the next post: An Accepted offer

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Seinfeld of Blogs

Alright, it's been a year since I touched or even looked at my other blogs. The fact is I don't even know what to write about anymore. My old pages were apparently too focused on a certain topic and I don't tend to hold an interest in things for too long. I've decided to take anything I'm interested in currently(like right now) and just spatter my brains out all over this blog. Not being so constrained on a topic, as in the past, I hope I can generate enough content to keep my followers happy and retain my own interest in blogging. Sounds fun eh? We'll see...