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Learning Life & Programming

Halo 3 Zune Displayed

A Halo 3 Zune? Wha…?   Here’s the image taken from GamerScoreBlog’s Flickr… looks like they’ve already been made as the paper behind the Zune says there was a drawing to win them….


May 12, 2007 Posted by | halo3, zune | 1 Comment

XNA Refresh Go!

Huzzah! The XNA update has gone live!

This includes the font update that I’ve been waiting for (as well as a packager for sharing the projects)… looks like it’s back to programming for me! Woohoo (that’s a “woohoo” of genuine excitemet)!


more complete details here 

April 24, 2007 Posted by | Programming & Gaming, XNA | Leave a comment

Second XBLA Double-Shot in a Row!

Last week is was 3D Adventure Golf and Gyruss… but this week does it one better with Eets and Pinball!  Seriously guys… you’re killing my wallet.

I’ve heard lots of good things about Eets; I’ll be out of town from Weds until Friday so I won’t get to play ;-(

April 23, 2007 Posted by | xbla, xbox live arcade | Leave a comment


So I finally got an HD-DVD player.  The HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox 360, to be exact.  I was in Sam’s club earlier in the week and found it for $125; it was the last one they had.  So, with it being alllllmost 1/2 off, I figured it was worth the purchase.  So is it?

Ehhh…. maybe.  I’ve had an HDTV since 2003, so I definately enjoy the HD experience.  HDTV vs regular cable is like night & day.  It’s an amazing difference, really.  But DVD vs HD-DVD?

Well, DVDs already look really good.  They’re already digital, already a decent quality.  Do HD-DVDs look better? YES.  Definately, yes.  But are they worth the expense of a $500 HD-DVD player..?  No, I honestly don’t think so.

But here’s where Microsoft should really be helping the HD-DVD camp.  $200 for an HD-DVD player?  Sure, if you’ve got an HD-DVD set.  And if you ever see it for $125, then it’s a no-brainer if you like HD content.  Somehow, though, $500 seems a little much for me.  The quality difference is good… but not $500 of good in order to get in early.  When HD-DVD players hit $200, that’s when they’ll start to take off; when they hit $100, they’ve got a winner.

I am, so far, a tad disappointed with the HD-DVD selections, however.  Blu-Ray has better presences at the Best Buy, CompUSA and the Circuit City stores here in Nashville.  Target doesn’t carry them.  And the prices are a biiit to high still (Excalibur is $25… I bought it on DVD for $10 like 3 years ago).  Ah the pain of an early adoptor.

I wish I could buy Spider-Man and X-Men and all those other movies on Blu-Ray.  I really wish that a standard could be figured out rather quickly.

Now that I have an HD-DVD player, I begin to wonder what the next medium will be like after HD discs.  I’ve thought that it would be simply downloading files… but I’m not sure.  If it’s a downloadable medium, I don’t think it will be actually purchasing one file.  I could see Microsoft or Apple or some new company come up with a plan like this:

You purchase the rights to view Movie for all of the distributors methods.  For example, if you wanted to watch “The Fountain” and you purchased it through Microsoft, you could view it as:

  • An HD file downloaded to the Xbox
  • An HD file downloaded to your Windows PC
  • An SD quality file for playback on your Zune device
  • A 1/4 SD quality file for playback on your Windows Mobile Phone
  • A streaming video file for playback from your digital locker

 Or, if you purchase from Apple you get similar options, all through the iPod store.  It’s this kind of convergence that would get me away from the physical media.  I don’t mind buying into an eco-system (didn’t I, with the HD-DVD?), but I have to know that it will do what I want when I want.  When I can move my video files off the 360 and onto a Zune, THEN you’ve got my attention.  When I can purchase HD files (purchase, not rent) for playback on my 360 or PC or Zune, THEN you’ve got my attention, Microsoft.  Make the convergence happen.

April 8, 2007 Posted by | hd-dvd, Microsoft | 2 Comments


So the XNA project I’m gearing up for requires font support and XML.  I’ve created my own class for taking care of fonts… but appearantly the April update will include it natively, so I’m waiting for that.  Once I see the enhancements for the April update, I’m hoping to get started back up on programming….

April 2, 2007 Posted by | XNA | Leave a comment

The Marriage

now this is games as art; this game is needs to be played.  download it, then read the instructions after you’ve played a few times.

March 20, 2007 Posted by | Programming & Gaming | Leave a comment

ShadowRun Beta NDA Lifted

 So… I’ve been slacking on the programming.  Why?  Because all my free time’s gone into playing a wee little game called ShadowRun.  I used to play a bit of the pen & paper game, so I was a bit nervous about the transition to it being an FPS…

 But, simply put, the game rocks.

 I mean, it rocks.  It’s really, really good.

I can’t wait for the game to come out so my friends and I all can buy it and play together.  This is the game I wanted PDZ to be; this is game GoW should have been; this is, quite simply, the best online experience I’ve had so far.

 I guess I should talk a bit about why it’s so good.  The game is played in CounterStrike fashion, where you get cash at the beginning of each round to purchase weapons and tech to give you an edge.  Of course, the winners get more cash, etc.  The key to the game isn’t just a balanced player, but a balanced team.  For each weapon, tech, or magic ability there is a corresponding weapon, tech, or magic ability to counter it.  The game is very balanced.

 Most importantly, the game is a blast to play.  It pays to experiment with the different classes and enhancements to find your niche.  I don’t know that I’ve foudn mine yet… but an elf (natural healing) with a katana (close combat, third-person view) supported by a minion (the giant blue thing in the picture) seems to work for me.  Well… I typically die most rounds, but I have a blast doing it.

 So yes, Microsoft has a certifiable hit on their hands.  ShadowRun = FPS goodness.

March 20, 2007 Posted by | Programming & Gaming, shadowrun | Leave a comment

Microsoft’s Programming Community

Say what you will about the big MS, but they support developers not only with great content and tutorials, but with stylish and inviting tools.  In the past few days Microsoft has shown strong support for us budding developers with two sites full of content from which to build upon:

And prizes and contests for the more experienced:

 I want to learn JAVA, really I do.  I know I’d have a future at my current workplace as a JAVA developer if I would just buckle down and commit to it.  Curse you Microsoft for being so good at getting the right tools out there to snag us young, learning developers.  You wouldn’t need an employee with an MBA and a touch programming experience, would you Microsoft?

March 5, 2007 Posted by | Microsoft, Programming & Gaming, XNA | Leave a comment

Switcher: How I went from using Macs to Vista

Hello, my name is Aaron.  And I’m a PC user.

It feels a little dirty, to be honest.  Yet, somehow, freeing to admit it.  Its one of those things in life that just ort of creeps up on you, and you don’t realize what’s happened until it’s too late.

 I used to be a video producer by trade.  This meant, in the early 2000s, I had no choice but to shout from the rooftops the beauty and elegance of Mac OSX.  Final Cut Pro was the the be all and end all of video editing.  Motion was the quickest program to use.  There was no question; for media creation there is no better suite of tools than the Mac ecosystem.

 But then I got a new job, fresh with benefits and decent pay.  And no longer did I need to create little movies and what not.  And on my desk at work was the boring, cold screen of Windows.  Ah, but at least I had my PowerBook, iMac and Mac desktop at home.  I would never go back to Mac.

Then I found programming.

Everyone around me said, “Use Eclipse.”  But I strayed, I was tempted by the darkside, and I loaded Visual Studio C# Express on my wife’s old laptop.  That was almost a year ago.

Slowly, I began taking her clunky old laptop tp work with me to work on programming during work.  And then XNA came out… the old rusty Windows laptop even came with us on vacation.  I felt like I was cheating on my shiny PowerBook… I mean, the PC was under-powered, had hard drive troubles and was foreer slow.  But Microsoft had seduced me with their tools, great support, and strong community.  I tried to use the PowerBook… I installed Eclipse on it.  But I kept using the laptop instead.

I went to the Vista launch party.  I saw.  And maybe, just maybe, a small part of me said, “Wow.”

Seriously people, I’m a Mac user.  I still have my Mac desktop to do my video editing on.  I still have my PowerBook.  There’s an Apple sticker on my car’s rear window.  I have lead many converts to the ease of use and quality that is Mac products.


(I feel so dirty.)

Vista looks better than Mac OSX.  It runs faster and smoother.  To be honest, I’ve never had a machine render webpages so quickly.  Office 2007 loads in about 3 seconds on my machine.  Yes – my machine.  On launch day, on January 30th I bought myself a new HP laptop (I bought my wife a Sony one, too).  I bought myself a $750 laptop and it runs better than my $1600 PowerBook ever did.  I’m not making this up, seriously.

Microsoft has a great product on their hands with Vista.  For years and years they’ve been teasing us with ideas of convergence; we’re on the cusp of it.  Apple has awakened the sleeping giant that is Microsoft, and their hidden weapons seem to be ready.  Vista, the 360, Windows Home Sever, Live Services…

I am now more than ever interested to see what Mac OSX 10.5 is going to look like.  They have their work cut out for them to best Vista.  I haven’t abandoned OSX.  I just have moved beyond simple fanboy-ism and realized that there are different tools to get different jobs done.  When I want to create media, I will always use a Mac.  When I want to program, I wil probably always use a Windows machine.

Congratualtions Microsoft; you brought a prodigal son home. 

February 3, 2007 Posted by | Microsoft, vista | 3 Comments

Vista Launch Party in Nashville

That’s right; in a show of complete geekiness, Le Chocolate Moose and I headed out to Cool Springs, TN for the Official Nashville Vista Launch.

I must say that Microsoft put a pretty good step forward for the “party,” and had the appropriate festiveness for the number of people there (maybe 100 non-MS or Circuit City employees).  There, unfortunately, wasn’t a whole lot to do.  More importantly, Circuit City didn’t have a whole lot of laptops.

You see, I haven’t been able to do hardly any coding the last few weeks because the only PC (we’ve been a Mac househould… that looks to be changing due to Vista) we have in the house is an old laptop that’s dying; I think there’s actual physical damage to one of the hard drive’s platters.  So I’ve been holding out to buy a Vista laptop.  Well, Circuit City
had abot 5 laptops with Vista for sale (ok, maybe 7).  So no new laptop for me yet; any suggestions?

So there wasn’t too much to do at the party, except free food (suprisingly good hamburgers and hot dogs), a pretty good DJ, and meeting some guy from the Titans (though I thought the older gentlemen who was “guarding” the Titans guy was much more amusing and charismatic).  The Titans guy was humorous in that he kept watching the highlight reel of himself instead of talking to people.  We got out picture with him; if I can get it scanned in I’ll post it here.

Oh, and I found out Microsoft has a small Nashville campus.  Who knew?

All in all, it was a decent event.   Microsoft put an appropriate amount of attention into the launch here.  I wish there were more community events like this, though.  So I hope to join the Vista Movement soon; Microsoft, here’s a guy WANTING to move away from Mac and towards your products.  Push your partners to get out some good laptops for me to buy!

January 30, 2007 Posted by | Microsoft, vista, Vista Launch | Leave a comment