A couple of years ago, I got a Linksys NS-LU2, basically a mini Linux embedded server with USB ports for external drives. I’m using that to play around with Debian, a distribution of Linux. I’d fogotten the good hacker vibes I get, watching source compile. Mmmm….source code….
This Debian box will end up running a basic file server for backups and then a piece of software called Mediatomb, a UPnP streaming server for my Xbox360. This will allow us to watch movies, TV shows and listen to music without a true dedicated computer running 24×7. It’s the cheap/free way to get features that many companies roll in to a dedicated piece of hardware, as long as you’re willing to do the hard work yourself.
One o the best kept secrets of [Halo 3](http://bungie.net/halo3) is a game called Rocket Race. Generally played on one of two maps, Valhalla or Sand Trap, Rocket Race is a great social 8-player game. Four pairs of two player ride the new Mongoose vehicle on in a race from waypoint to waypoint. Waypoints are randomly activated, so after one team reaches a checkpoint, another random point is assigned. That leaves the teams scrambling to find a new direction to race towards.
Did I mention the rockets?
One person drives while the other has an infinite supply of rockets. The team’s VIP is the “rocket man” and is prevented from driving anything. Also, the VIP is the only one that can “score” by reaching a waypoint. That means that each team is desparately trying to rocket the other team out of the way. You’re invincible except for the ever-present assisnation attack or classic “beat down”.
This odd combination of parameters boils down to fun gameplay. No one can camp out and rack up kills like Team Crazy King (of the Hill) and it forces the two players to work together. I played with 7 other random people on Xbox Live today and enjoyed every minute.
Boing Boing Gadgets: “From the film 1967 1999 A.D., a short sponsored by the Philco-Ford Corporation, showing what home shopping would be like three decades in the future. Although they missed the frenetic pace of today’s online shopping experience—the housewife’s browsing looks almost leisurely—they guessed correctly on the abundance flat-panel screens (with multiple monitors, no less), even if they were off by about a decade. Oh course, they didn’t quite put together that we’d still be using keyboards for input.”
You can count on me buying this one and wasting several hours this winter…
Xbox Live Arcade: “Seventeen years ago, you survived a vicious Pfhor assault on the U.E.S.C. Marathon. Now you have been awakened by the enigmatic, sentient A.I. called Durandal and sent to an alien world to uncover the mysteries of their advanced technology. In Marathon: Durandal, armed with only a pistol, you are humanity%u2019s last champion!”
I’ve had a chance to play a few games of the Halo 3 MP Beta and it’s been a blast. It’s like Halo but better, much like the differences between creamy and crunchy peanut butter. The button layout is still taking some time to get burned in to my habits, but I can see where it makes for better play.
The maps are balanced but still a tad large for thr typical 6-8 person matchup. In Slayer games, it gives you some breathing room to walk aeound the map and learn the weapon placement and hiding places. I’ve only been matched to High Ground and Snowbound–waiting for Valhalla.
I bought a new television Tuesday night, a Westinghouse 32″ HDTV (32w6 if you keep up with that kind of thing) and I love it. It’s a great TV and at a great price. It’s the dirty secret of the LCD-TV world because a good portion of it appears to be made by Sony or with some Sony parts. I’m told the LCD is similar or identical to the one in 32″ Sony displays and the video circuitry is just step below, too.
I set up the TV and read the brief instruction manual. A couple of quick menu choices and it was happily sniffing away at my cable connection. I chose the automatic detection settings and I was not disappointed. I found hundreds of digital channels but most were block or contained no content. It did find all of the standard channels without problems and it was at this point that I got my first glimpse of what analog TV really looks like: yuk!
I was wondering if my money had been spent in vain when I hit channel 16.1 — my local NBC station broadcasting in 1080i, the highest resolution/quality my new baby could understand. It was near midnight and Conan O’Brian was on.
It was stunning!
I sat slack-jawed, stupefied at HDTV. It was so clear, much clearer than anything I’d seen before, even in the demo rooms and back wall of Best Buy. I found myself not listening to the words and instead staring at the textures of the clothing, the curtain behind Conan (you could almost see the fabric texture) and the color blotches on Robin Williams’ face.
When done right, HDTV is marvelous. I know now that I will have to replace all of my standard stuff for HD. A Series 3 HD TiVo is $799 plus $199 to transfer the lifetime subscription. That’s a little rich for my blood right now, but I’ll keep an eye on it in case I can find a way to pick one up on the cheap.
One of the best parts was connecting my original Xbox up to the component video connectors. I reconfigured the Xbox to display 480p (a higher resolution than standard) and made it aware that I now had a “16:9″ TV. Combine that with the DVD kit and now I’m watching DVDs at probably twice the clarity that I had before.
It’s three days later and I’m still marveling at the quality. If you’re on the fence, buy a HDTV and you won’t be disappointed.
I sold my Xbox and everything with it on Friday. By Saturday I had seller’s remorse and my Monday the full impact of the transaction had hit hard. Yes, I made a decent payback on the console but I’d lost the camaraderie. No more “Halo Night” on Monday. No more late-night sniping sessions with friends, laughing and having a blast.
Why did I do it?
I thought it would help me feel less possessed by technology. I didn’t realize that it had become such a part of who I was–a geek. Now I’m living with regret. Friends tell me to get an Xbox360 and another copy of Halo 2. Since I’m about $250 short, that’s not very practical.
I’ve picked up consulting jobs in the past doing some light programming or web design. Now that I’m running WordPress, I may be able to do that again.
If anyone needs some light PHP work done or WordPress templates created, let me know. I’ll even work for trade–if that trade comes in the form of a Xbox360.