TimeDoctor Approved Podcasts of the Week 05/16/08

This week we’re listening and watching the best America has on offer. Even though Zero Punctuation (after the break) is really made in from another nation, it is about grand theft auto which is currently set in New York/Liberty, City. Oh, and your mortagage costs a lot: 

This American Life #355:

The Giant Pool of Money: A special program about the housing crisis. We explain it all to you. What does the housing crisis have to do with the collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money.

 

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MGS4 Notes

  • MGS4 “Steel” Bundle 40GB PS3 exclusive from Konami… $600!?!? WTF This thing probably doesn’t even have backwards compatibility with the PS2!
  • MGS4 Goes Gold, Includes iPod and Playboy Brands: Great, it’s gold. I just hope that playboy stuff is merely swimsuit style so they don’t get in trouble.
  • 5 New Screenshots: Yawn.
  • Metal Gear Online Beta: I played it, it’s fun. Yes it isn’t perfect. Yes it requires multiple logins to be created. Yes the controls still aren’t great. Yes snapping necks as Solid Snake when everyone else is generic militiaman or genome soldiers is the best multiplayer experience I’ve had recently.

Ikea Pax wardrobe-cum entertainment center

Like much of the first worlds’ over-fed population, last year I went out and indulged in a flat-screen television. Consequently, like the rest of flat-screen T.V. buyers I found out that my old C.R.T.—based entertainment center was inadequate for the new wideness of L.C.D.

The temporary (over a year) solution was to simply put the L.C.D. television on top of the old outdated Ikea unit and fill the now empty square with miscellaneous D.V.D.’s and video games. Needless to say, this looked pretty ridiculous and the absurdity was only compounded by the bowing of the now top-heavy center.

With all of my loot blown on the T.V., I could not afford a fancy stand nor would any of these compact new flat-screen friendly entertainment centers fit all of my capitalist wares of component stereo, D.V.D./V.C.R. combo, C.D. player, cable box, record player, center channel speaker, video game systems, and gobs and gobs of media. What was I to do?

Well, inspired by ikeahacker.blogspot.com, I had to look no further than my Ikea Pax wardrobe. This 93” tall utilitarian behemoth is nothing more than shelves where I put my clothes. However, the idea came to me that it might also serve as a good entertainment center, just in need of a little hacking.

The Pax unit I purchased in 2006 was $111.28. This included the box itself and six shelves. I figured for that price I would have all of the entertainment center storage I needed plus I would undercut the price of a smaller (inadequate), however, T.V. specific unit by at least $60, according to what I had seen listed.

So I saved my pennies and took my measurements to make sure my 37” television would fit inside my, what happens to be, 39” wide wardrobe and I put caution and shelf strength to the wind and headed down to Ikea.

It turns out they have inflation in Sweden. In 2008 my aforementioned Pax configuration cost me $149.80. However, I was still beating the price of some of the smallest T.V. stands by a nice margin.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “this entertainment center idea is not a hack, it is a repurposed wardrobe!” However, you would be wrong because the load-bearing composite-board (the integral life force of all Ikea furniture) had to be drilled to make way for wires. These holes are very important as without them my little electronic boxes do not receive power or connectivity.

So, with my Dremel-esque (borrowed) tool, I took bit to flimsy composite and watched many, many particles of dust fly. My cuts were less than precise, however, I knew (read hoped) they would be largely concealed. I measured shelves’ distance by the screw hole (not to be confused with my drilled holes, these line the interior of the cabinet for shelf hanging purposes) for tight fit and maximum storage and up went my Ikea hacked Pax wardrobe-cum entertainment center.

Sitting here enjoying the completed project, I am very happy. It probably took way to long to finish (as I kept putting the shelf sinkers in screw holes that did not line up their pairings) but the completed unit is just what my little apartment needed. A towering faux antique wood stained monstrosity that screams “coach potato.” Shine on you Swedish diamond!

TimeDoctor Approved Podcasts of the Week 05/09/08

This week my favorite podcasts were The 1UP Show (after the break) and the Joystiq podcast, sampan hats off to them all:

The Joystiq Podcast crew hit their 49th episode this week, Chris Grant, Ludwig Kietzmann and Justin McElroy, are covering random games and lots of GTA4, as expected. The best part is their Philadelphian Vocal Pronunciation class.  This link is their RSS feed, this one is the direct MP3, and this one is the iTunes subscription. In a previous episode they even answered a question from Y.T. about the Korean game industry.

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Star Wars fans are decadent and depraved

I have always considered myself a big fan of George Lucas’ Star Wars. Having watched all but the first release theatrically, and then having seen the re-releases and then prequels on the big screen, I feel that Star Wars holds a big place in my entertained idea of self. From birthday cakes, to Halloween costumes, common quotes amongst friends, to lists of greatest screen villains, the stories from a galaxy far, far away strike a chord with me. However, it was recently that I found out there exists another level of fan — the likes of which I do not even approach.

Sir, Duke of DorkWhile browsing the web, I came across a forum of Star Wars fans that cannot be rivaled. I sat and I read for literally hours the messages of a group of people who study every piece of minutia in Lucas’ alien galaxy. Their love is recreating these worlds and people, right here on earth, in the form of costume and prop. They study screen captures of each scene from the films to get every detail right. Forum threads (each containing double-digit pages of posts) record the back and forth of analysis and approximation to correct recreation. Hundred of hours are spent laboring and then broadcasting the achievements attained in recreating the Star Wars universe. Obsession is the name of the game.

Each forum is comprised of many threads of messages. Each thread is devoted to a certain aspect of the Film (character, weapon, make-up, piece of clothing.) Those that claim to be a part of the Vader community do nothing but study this character and his four film incarnations. They devote themselves to recreating his costume as the bounds of each films dictates. (In each Star Wars film in which Darth Vader appears, his costume has subtle variations due to budgeting and taste of Lucas and fellow creators.) So page after page of this thread is dedicated to a member’s recreation of Darth Vader as he appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. Other members weigh in on the photos that are uploaded by the re-creator. Accuracy is debated and checked. High definition screen captures are studied. This goes on until completion and then perhaps the work is shared as it is sold to other admirers in the form of casts of the newly created molds of chest boxes and helmet tusks.

I sat in amusement reading about those who put my once lofty levels of fandom to shame. I also laughed at the absurdity of it all. The literally hundreds of man-hours spent recreating the paltry few hours of film that actually portrayed this intergalactic escapism leads one to laugh at the silliness of it all.

Should one laugh? What gives me the right to heckle one man’s use of spare time over my own pursuits? Should that which society deems a more productive use of free time be held up against those of our aforementioned super-fans? Does working on one’s lawn, following a baseball team, or reading all of Hemingway’s prose amount to something of more worth than festooning your Vader helmet with correctly colored (film accurate) lenses?

Well, if we are to be moderate in all things, then yes, obsessively studying the fit of movie character’s armor should be criticized. However, in doing so, one should also realize the frivolity of one’s own desires and immoderate pastimes. A virtue reality check, if you will. Han shot first!