Live On I-5

Posted Mar 29, 2011 at 11:49 am

Live on I-5 is the first live compilation album released by Soundgarden. It contains 17 recordings from the West Coast part of their 1996 tour, so it covers all parts of Soundgarden’s career. It also features two covers to change things up a bit.

The quality of the recordings is excellent, with a full sound and a good mix of everything. You can make out all the parts with clarity. I found the crowd noise excessive at parts, but the band is plenty loud.

Here’s a sample (you can hear the whole thing on Facebook):
2. Searching With My Good Eye Closed by Soundgarden

My only regret is not pre-ordering directly from SoundgardenWorld.com since that was the only way to get the bonus track and soundcheck CD. There was also a bonus DVD for buying the album at Best Buy, but that was just three songs from the 2010 Lollapalooza. I guess you have to choose which bonus you want or buy it twice? That’s dumb.

Update: I downloaded the bonus tracks via iTunes and it was worth it. They sound great!

Chemistry

Posted Mar 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm

If you are at all interested in chemistry or science like I am, I recommend checking out Periodic Videos. They have a video on each and every element in the periodic table as well as many molecules and other chemistry topics. Their videos are very educational and most are pretty entertaining.

This is one of my favorite YouTube subscriptions. Below is a selection of a few of my favorite videos on their channel. They are some of the more fierier and explodier videos.

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Minecraft

Posted Dec 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Minecraft is a game that cannot easily be described. Any attempts I’ve heard failed to do the game justice, not necessarily because the game is amazing, but because the descriptions make it sound pretty lame. I’ve been putting many hours of free time into the game since I bought it last week, so there is definitely substance to this game.

I’ll attempt to give a basic summary of the gameplay. The game revolves around blocks that represent different materials such as stone, wood, and minerals. The whole infinitely generating world is made of these blocks. You can build and use various tools to help manipulate the blocks and collect the materials. You can also attach blocks to other blocks to build things, which is where most of the fun lies. For an added twist, there are monsters that appear at night or in dark tunnels.

Enough about the game. Here’s how my experience with this game went. First I created a single-player game and started randomly digging around, then built a failure of a shelter. After that, I joined some friends in a multiplayer game and never went back. After breaking some stuff, I borrowed some supplies and started mining for materials. Then I leveled an island and built a cabin on it. At this point I thought “Now what?”

The answer is build stuff! You can build pretty much anything you can imagine, limited only by your creativity and amount of effort you’re willing to put in. So far I’ve built a maze and a roller coaster, which is pretty fun. Other players on the server are building way more impressive structures.

At the time of this writing, the game is in the alpha stage of development so there are bugs as expected, especially in multiplayer mode. These don’t do much to get in the way, though. The game is moving to beta on Dec. 20th, which also means the price will double. So if you’re thinking of getting the game, buy it before then!

Telephantasm

Posted Aug 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Soundgarden has resurfaced to perform at Lollapalooza and to announce Telephantasm, a retrospective due on September 28th. This will include many alternative versions of songs as well as several unreleased videos on DVD. It also includes “Black Rain,” a previously unreleased track recorded during the Badmotorfinger sessions. It sounds great!

You can listen to it right here:

The artwork for Telephantasm is also incredible, I might add! You can see full-sized images by clicking on either banner in this post. It’s also my new desktop background.

Soundgarden’s appearance at Lollapalooza marks their third performance since their return, including the one at the Showbox which I talked about in a previous post. They have exceeded my expectations with each performance. Chris can still sing, Kim can still make his crazy sounds, Ben can still manage to reach the floor, and Matt is perfect. 😀

I’ve already pre-ordered the Super Ultra Deluxe edition of Telephantasm. Now I wait…

Pandora Radio

Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Pandora Radio is a free internet streaming radio service that allows you to create personalized stations. The stations select music based on similarity using data from The Music Genome Project. You tell it something you like and it will find other songs you probably like. As you listen, you can tell it what you like and dislike so it gets a better idea of your preferences.

I’ve been using Pandora on and off for a few years and it works pretty well. I’ve discovered some great bands I never knew I liked or even heard of. It’s a great way to discover new music. Of course it also plays a lot of your favorites, too.

You can even further customize your stations by mixing them together or manually adding bands for more variety.

The free version has some short ads and a few limits on usage, but it isn’t too bad. I’m actually thinking of getting the paid version that removes the ads and limits, as well as gives higher quality and a desktop application. Right now it’s only $36/year.

Soundgarden

Posted May 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

In my 2010 post I mentioned the possible reunion of Soundgarden, but now it appears to be confirmed. On April 16, they put on a show in Seattle under the anagram “Nudedragons.” They also released an official live video of them performing “Beyond the Wheel” which is awesome.

The band performed all of their classics as well as a cover of The Doors’ “Waiting for the Sun.” They still sound amazing by the way, especially for their first live performance in about 12 years. Looking for more from this show on YouTube, I found this awesome channel which has audio of the whole set.

Here’s a playlist I put together that has them in order according to the set list. Enjoy:

Battlefield Bad Company 2

Posted Mar 27, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Battlefield Bad Company 2 is the latest addition to EA/DICE’s Battlefield franchise, released earlier this month. It is the sequel to Battlefield Bad Company. It features several online modes as well as a short single-player campaign (which I admittedly didn’t finish).

This review will cover the multiplayer modes for the PC version of the game.

The Good

The game features some of the best graphical effects I’ve seen and it really makes me appreciate my recently upgraded system. Something that also stands out about this game is the ability to alter the environment, from cutting down trees to collapsing entire buildings.

There are 4 game modes: Rush (attack/defend), Conquest (territory control), Squad Rush (smaller version of Rush), and Squad Deathmatch. I prefer Rush since is has the most defined objective and focused action. Teams are broken into squads of four to promote teamwork, along with point incentives for helping your squad. You also have the ability to spawn on other squad members which further promotes teamwork. I really like what they have done in this area.

The class breakup is simplified from previous Battlefield games, with only four choices: Assault, Medic, Engineer and Recon. Each class has several categories of customization for weapons, devices, and other perks.

Though they play a smaller role that other Battlefield games, the vehicles are nice. There are the usual tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters, cars, boats, as well a some new additions. These include ATVs, jet skis, and a UAV you can control remotely which is pretty cool.

The ranking system is also more refined with progress and awards shown on loading screens. You get points for everything you do in game that aids the team. These points go towards upgrades and your overall rank. The unlock system is a nice way to ease the learning curve of the game, since you start with the basic loadout and unlock more choices.

The Bad

While the gameplay is awesome, there are a few major flaws that I hope get addressed in future patches. My biggest complaint in the team balance issues. It is very common to see teams become incredibly unbalanced and the game makes it difficult to rectify since team switching is restricted. The games tries to put players on the same team and squad as their friends, which tends to be the source of the unbalances.

Another annoyance is the friends system, which barely works and is very limited. These issues can probably be easily fixed by patches, so I hope they do soon.

Conclusion

This game is awesome. If you like first-person shooters, I highly recommend this game. Also, some may like to know that this game supports dedicated servers.

If you have played this, please comment with your opinions. 🙂

The Hurt Locker

Posted Feb 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

The Hurt Locker follows an Explosive Ordinance Disposal team in the Iraq war in 2004. They have the extremely dangerous job of disarming bombs in the middle of a war zone. The movie follows the team of three, led by SSG William James, as they go on several missions of investigating and diffusing IEDs.

The Good

This movie seemed to aim at being a realistic depiction of the situation, almost like a documentary, and I think it accomplished that pretty well. This isn’t one of those Hollywood action movies where people survive nearby explosions and just walk away.

There was plenty of suspense where danger could be lurking anywhere. Every civilian is a potential insurgent waiting to remotely detonate the bomb two inches in front of the main character’s face. You really get a feel of just how dangerous his job is.

The Bad

The plot was pretty flat with not much of a climax to speak of. Some viewers may be disappointed by the slow pace and lack of action. If action is what you’re looking for, this movie may not be what you expect.

Conclusion

Overall, this is an excellent war thriller and I’d highly recommend it. There was a perfect balance of suspense and action, and a refreshingly realistic take on events. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

2010

Posted Jan 5, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Well it’s been 2010 for five days now, so I think it’s about time for a post. The new decade came with a surprising announcement. So here’s a short post about that and stuff…

If you pay any attention, you know that my favorite band without question is Soundgarden. Unfortunately they have been broken up since ’97, so by the time I discovered the band there was no chance of seeing them live or anything. Whenever asked, the frontman Chris Cornell always said they would never get back together.

So you can imagine my amazement to see this tweet on New Year’s Eve. I just hope that it’s true, and I’m looking forward to more news about this potential reunion.

So Happy New year everyone! I’ll close with this:

Left 4 Dead 2

Posted Nov 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Left 4 Dead 2Left 4 Dead 2, the sequel to the popular zombie shooter Left 4 Dead was released earlier this month. Overall it is a huge improvement over it’s predecessor, with new weapons, new types of infected, and some new game modes (and more detailed gore). This review will cover what’s new in Left 4 Dead 2.

Game Modes

Along with original Co-op, Verses and Survival modes, L4D2 adds Scavenge and Realism to the mix.

Scavenge mode pits two teams of 4 together in a race to collect the most gas cans. Teams take turns between Survivors collecting cans, and Infected trying to stop them. The winning team can be determined in a single round or the best 2/3 or 3/5 rounds. Scavenge is my new favorite game mode, since games are short and full of action!

Realism is basically Co-op with the “user-friendly” features removed along with some damage modifications. This means that helpers like halos around teammates and items are removed for a much less forgiving environment. It was designed for the hard-core players.

New Special Infected

Among the original Hunter, Smoker, Boomer, Tank and Witch, L4D2 introduces the Charger, Spitter and Jockey. The game also adds a new type of common infected called uncommon common, which have unique traits.

(left to right) Charger, Spitter, Jockey, and two Uncommon Common

Charger, Spitter, Jockey, and two Uncommon Common

The Charger’s special ability is charging at groups of survivors. Successful charges can stun up to all four survivors, grabbing one and pummeling him/her into the ground. He can also carry someone over long distances, sometimes over a cliff. He is useful in a variety of situations, but can be very difficult to use due to it’s odd clipping.

The Spitter’s special ability is spitting acid over an area. Survivors take damage while standing in the acid, forcing them to move. It appears to be designed specifically for countering camping tactics, which is a welcome change.

The Jockey’s special ability is hopping on someone’s back and steering him/her into danger. Once on, he can be difficult to remove since his victim is moving. The Jockey is definitely my favorite to play, and the most hilarious with his maniacal laughter.

New Weapons

One of my complaints about L4D was a lack of variety in weapon choices, but this is definitely not the case in L4D2. Along with the original lineup there are several new weapons, the addition of melee weapons, new items, as well as special ammunition and attachments.

Magnum and Grenade Launcher

Magnum and Grenade Launcher

The new melee weapons are my new favorite (probably used more than guns). From katanas to guitars to chainsaws, there’s plenty of options when it comes to knocking zombie heads off.

Guitar, Chainsaw, and Fire Axe

Guitar, Chainsaw, and Fire Axe

The new items offer plenty of options. You can pick up an adrenalin shot for a temporary speed boost, or a jar of Boomer bile for a role reversal. If you are willing to give up a first aid kit, you can pick up a defibrillator or explosive/incendiary ammo.

Bile Jar, Defibrillator, Laser Sights, and Incendiary Rounds

Bile Jar, Defibrillator, Laser Sights, and Incendiary Rounds

The Story

The CharactersWhat stands out about the story is the setting. The entire campaign takes place in the southern U.S. and has a continuous plot. There are several scenes taking place during the day for a nice change. There are also some really amazing environmental effects in some scenes.

The characters seem rather uninteresting for the most part, but they all have a unique personality. I don’t know what it is but the original cast seemed much more original and appealing.

Conclusion

If you enjoyed Left 4 Dead, you will definitely enjoy Left 4 Dead 2. It has everything good from the original and tons more added on top. Even some of the original features were improved like the AI and Verses mode scoring.

The game plays much better overall, with much less hiding in corners and much more frantic running through hordes of zombies. I approve! 😀