FL Studio 10 Released Today – from the Video, It Looks Awesome!

If you’ve been around electronic music for any length of time, you’ll know the name FL Studio, or its older name, Fruity Loops. Thanks to Kellogg’s, which thought people would get confused between Fruit Loops, a breakfast cereal, and Fruity Loops, an advanced digital audio workstation (DAW for short), Image-Line had to rename Fruity Loops to FL Studio. Honestly, I hate it when grocery stores put DAWs in with my cereal! It’s irritating! Anyway, Image-Line released FL Studio 10 this morning and from viewing the “What’s New” video I don’t want to write this post! I want to jump on my rig (I’m writing this on my laptop), install it, and play around with it. Also, very good news for you 64-bit Kontakt users: FL Studio supports 64-bit plugins. According to the release post, these are some of the new features:

Key new features include:

  • 64 Bit plugin wrapper – FL Studio now hosts 64 Bit VST plugins for access to unlimited memory.
  • Autosave / Autobackup – Don’t lose a project or data again.
  • Revised Playlist – Individually resizable tracks. Lock tracks to Clips. Live performance time Marker options (Jump to, Loop, Pause & Skip)
  • Revised Mixer – Fully Automatic Plugin Delay Compensation (A-PDC). New waveform meter view.
  • Revised Piano roll – Export as sheet music option. Vertical zoom with not properties view. Magic lasso selection & note-handle stretch. Edit ghost notes by double Right-click. Waveform view.
  • Pattern Picker – opens from the Playlist, Piano roll or Stepsequencer. Select Patterns & Channels.
  • Patcher (free) – chain instruments & effects for easy saving of complete instrument & effect chains.
  • ZGameEditor Visualizer (free) – visualization effect with movie render capability.
  • Pitcher (demo) – real-time correction/harmonization plugin responds to Piano roll note control.
  • Newtone (demo) – pitch correction editor for precise control, pristine quality stretching, re-pitching and correction.
  • Keep on disk & 32 Bit Bridge – now give each Audio Clip / Sampler Channel / Plugin access to at least 2 GB memory and up to 4 for VST Plugins.
  • Fruity Edition – gains access to Pattern Clips.
  • Lifetime Free Updates – are extended to all FL Studio 10 box customers onward & as usual all download customers.
  • …learn more by visiting the ‘FL Studio 10 What’s New?‘ page.

I’m rather excited for some of these new features so I’m going to go scurry off to play with it. Also, Image-Line is giving away $1010 to someone for blogging/linking their news release. I would’ve written this article anyways, but the chance to win $1010 is great, especially because I could use that money. Again, read the whole article here.

Calling in Sick to Protest?

I don’t really care which side of the political spectrum you’re on. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time (when I actually update it, that is), you know which side I’m on. I’m not debating union vs. anti-union. I’m not debating whether the teachers should lose bargaining rights, etc. My whole problem with this “protest” going on in Wisconsin is the principle behind it.

Say you’re employed by any employer in the United States (and probably the world as well). One morning you just really don’t feel like going into work so you call in sick. Later on you go to lunch and as you walk in your boss is sitting at a table facing the door. In most cases, you’re probably going to get disciplined and/or fired. My workplace for example, if I call in sick, I have to bring in proof that I went to the doctor. If I don’t provide this proof it’s considered a no call/no show and is grounds for a written write up (we have verbal write ups as well; it’s rather… odd). Where I work, three written write ups and you’re fired, no exceptions. I’m sure that if all these teachers were fired for lying about illness, they could find replacements for them in a heartbeat.

In 1981 the members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike, leading Ronald Reagan to fire 11,350 air traffic controllers and ban them from ever being rehired by the FAA. I’m not saying that these teachers should be fired. I’m also not saying they shouldn’t be fired. I think there’s blame on both sides. However, if I was part of the administration of those schools that are closed due to the strike, I’d consider their absence unexcused and deal whatever appropriate  consequences are dictated by district policy. Enough of what I think, though: what do you think?

Audio Review: Code Red by Red Sackles

Red Sackles - Code RedToday I purchased a track titled “Code Red” by a friend of mine who goes by the alias, “Red Sackles.” That’s pronounced Red Sack-less. He is one of the proprietors of an Internet radio called Gamer Radio Initiative.

If you like Drum n’ Bass, electronica, etc., you’ll like this. It sounds a lot like something that would come out of Celldweller.

I really like this new thing of rock meets electronica and hope it continues. I recommend this track — it’s worth the $0.89. Purchase it here.

Should the Government Step in for Lazy Parents?

When most parents think of “games” they think of fun-filled, family friendly things like Clue, Sorry!, and a myriad of other Parker Brother products. Some parents fail to see the distinction between say Half Life 2 and Super Mario Brothers. One is a nightmarish future created by a scientific catastrophe in which our silent protagonist fights to save both himself and humanity, the other an Italian plumber, wearing a red shirt with blue overalls with a red hat, jumping on and crushing brown things (goombas), turtles (koopas) to save the Princess whilst riding a green dinosaur accompanied with cutesy music. Most of these same parents would find a very big distinction between Alien and Barney’s Broadway Adventure (I don’t know if that exists, but it probably does). Now some parents will allow their child to watch Alien, but talk to them about the violence. Some let Blue’s Clues teach their child everything.

Where am I going with this? Well, a law passed in 2005 by California makes it illegal to sell “violent video games” to minors. It is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. Now, how can you determine what video games are violent? I mean, look at my description of Super Mario Brothers. Mario crushes things to cutesy music, kind of sounds a bit sadistic. Is The Legend of Zelda a violent game because it allows you to slice other characters with a sword or shoot arrows/deku nuts at other characters? Where do we draw the line? Violent T.V. shows exist. Violent movies exist. It’s not illegal for a minor to gain admittance to an R rated film, but most, if not all, movie theaters refuse them. The film industry, in the U.S., has the MPAA, which is a voluntary board that puts ratings on films. Voluntary. The film industry regulates itself! Similarly, the video game industry has its own rating board. In the U.S., we call this board the ESRB. Most retailers will not sell an M rated game to a minor. AO games have trouble being published, and are refused by most console makers. If this law stands, should there be a law making it illegal for retailers to sell R rated movies to minors? What stops a parent from just buying it because their child wont stop whining about it? Honestly, nothing can stop parental laziness. Should this law stand? Should this law be struck down?

Video Games, Second Amendment and Blood Soaked Cars

Title got your attention? Good.

People are always quick to try to blame gun violence on video games. Anytime an article is published that focuses on the guns in a video game, a debate about the Second Amendment usually pops up in the comments section. With the amount of violent video games I play, you’d expect me to be a raging psychopath. I’m not, in case any of you were wondering.

Now, the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Some state that after the third comma, “people” is referring to the Militia. I can see the point on that one. However, documents like our Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence weren’t penned in one draft. Our founders took great pains to craft these documents. Every word in these documents is significant. If they were specifically stating that the Militia were the only people allowed to bear Arms (note that it says Arms and not Firearms [a sword is a weapon and therefore included with “Arms”]) why did they use “people” and not simply “Militia” a second time?

In that time the Militia were volunteers and most brought their own weapons, be that muskets, bayonets, or whatever. At that time, McDonalds, Jack in the Box, KFC, Church’s Chicken, Subway, etc did not exist. People didn’t own hundreds of cows. Sure, they had livestock, but they hunted as well. They hunted quail, deer, elk, etc. They also had to protect their livestock from coyotes, wolves and other predators. Even to this day people still hunt using guns. You try chasing down a deer with a knife to kill it. (I actually had someone say they wouldn’t mind people hunting if they just used knives instead of guns to give the deer a fair chance.) Another point, rabies. Imagine that you’re a farmer and your prized bull that you use to impregnate your cows (cows don’t just spontaneously reproduce, you know) has contracted rabies. You can put it out of its misery by using a gun, or you can try to get close to it to inject poison into it and risk contracting rabies yourself. A rabid bull is very dangerous.

Murder is never a nice thing. Whenever a murder happens, people try to find a scape goat. Usually, it’s the gun. “If people weren’t allowed to have guns, <name> would still be alive.” That would be all well and good if guns were the only way to murder someone. Yes, some rage induced gun violence wouldn’t have happened, but premeditated murder would still exist. Let’s take the year 2000 into consideration. According to United Justice, “There were an estimated 15,517 murders in 2000…” Not all murders are attributed to gun violence. For simplicity’s sake, let’s pretend that all the estimated 15,517 murders in 2000 were perpetrated by gun violence. Also according to United Justice, “The total number of people killed in highway crashes in 2001 was 42,116, compared to 41,945 in 2000.” That’s a big difference. My question to people who want to prohibit firearms completely is, if you want them banned due to how dangerous they are, let’s ban motor vehicles as well. It’s only logical.

Do You Have a Problem With AT&T?

Recently, I saw this post on PCWorld.com. I asked myself, “Have I really ever had trouble with my AT&T wireless and before that, when they were still Cingular?” I’ve had maybe a total of five “dropped calls” in the five years I’ve had a mobile device. Now, there have been some odd things, for example, trying to make a phone call when school let out during my freshman year of high school was like trying to do an ice sculpture with your forehead. However, that only lasted about a month before there was no trouble at all making phone calls after school.

Lately, I’ve had no problems with AT&T and the interactions I’ve had with their network and their customer service have made me even more of a loyal customer. I’ve called their customer service at least four or five times within the last month for various reasons. I wanted to add texting to my line, then I wanted to get my mother a new phone for mother’s day, and now I’m upgrading mine. Every time that I’ve spoken with customer support, they have been helpful, understandable and have been able to take care of any problems I’ve had. My favorite part is you can tell that they’re not a call center in India. I have nothing against people from India, but it is incredibly difficult to deal with support done in Indian call centers.

Now here’s the fun part, how has your service been with AT&T? Do you enjoy it? Are you a loyal customer? Do you hate them vehemently? Let me know!

Arizona Immigration Law

There’s been a large hubbub about the Arizona Immigration Law that has been passed. There are a lot of people who support it and a lot of people who are against it. I took the time to read through the bill (SB1070) today and the only thing I found that I think people have issue is this right here:

B. FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY
21 OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS
22 STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS
23 UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE,
24 WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON. THE
25 PERSON’S IMMIGRATION STATUS SHALL BE VERIFIED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
26 PURSUANT TO 8 UNITED STATES CODE SECTION 1373(c).

The parts I made bold hurt their argument in my opinion. I don’t believe this law gives Arizona Law Enforcement Officers an excuse to pull over every person they believe is not an United States citizen. However, think on this, even today racial profiling exists. This law is a good law in my opinion because honestly, if you’re here illegally, you’re violating our laws. Simple as that. You are violating the law. Violating the law has consequences. I don’t mind people immigrating to the United States, some of my best friends are legal immigrants. I don’t care what country you’re from, if you’re here illegally, you’re breaking the law. If racial profiling does come from this law, it is the duty of the citizens to report the officer to the police department, if that doesn’t work, vote out the police chief (I’m assuming that most towns have you vote for police chief). Don’t protest against a good law because you believe it can be abused. Any law can be abused. So far as I’m concerned, I’m for this law.

The Massive Project Coming Down the Pipes

This project will be a monumental undertaking. I will attempt to summarize each section of the “Health Care Reform Bill” as posted at http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3590/text. This may take me several months of work, but I believe it will be a good thing. I am not a lawyer so I will probably have thesauri and dictionaries sitting next to me while I read the bill. Anyways, to get it started, I’ll do the first two or three sections of the bill after the table of contents. I’ll post the title of each section and then summarize it. I am reading it in order even if the section numbers seem to jump around haphazardly.

SEC. 1001. AMENDMENTS TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT.

This is essentially changing the numberings of sections in a previous act. I don’t plan on reviewing the act.

‘Subpart II–Improving Coverage

‘SEC. 2711. NO LIFETIME OR ANNUAL LIMITS.

Basically this section prohibits insurance companies from making plans that have lifetime or annual limits on the amount of money an insurance company will pay.

‘SEC. 2712. PROHIBITION ON RESCISSIONS.

I had to look up rescission, which is basically the act of rescinding which is voiding or canceling a contract. This section states that insurance companies cannot cancel your plan except in the case of fraud and has to give prior notice before cancellation.

‘SEC. 2713. COVERAGE OF PREVENTIVE HEALTH SERVICES.

Part (a) of this section states that insurers cannot charge for preventative health measures including infants and women. At least I think “not impose any cost sharing requirements” means they cannot charge for it. This includes immunization, breast cancer screening and things listed as “evidence based items or services” that have a rating of ‘A’ or ‘B’ in current recommendations from the US Preventative Task Force.

Part (b) states that the USPTF recommendations must have at least one year in between recommendations.

Part (c) states that “The Secretary” (I don’t know to whom this is referring to, if you could help me out that’d be great, but I’m guessing Secretary of State) can make guidelines to allow “value based insurance designs.”

‘SEC. 2714. EXTENSION OF DEPENDENT COVERAGE.

This section states that for plans that offer coverage for dependent children, the coverage shall be available until either age 26 or marriage (whichever is first). This doesn’t require coverage for dependents of the dependents (children of the dependent adult child). This section cannot be used to change the definition of  ‘dependent’ as used in the Tax Code.

For Tuesday’s post, I will start with ‘SEC. 2715. It is a rather lengthy section. I hope you all stick with me to the end of this. I believe it is probably a good idea to know what exactly is in this bill which is rather obnoxiously long. In your discussion, however, please try to leave your emotions at the doorstep. I know this is hard, but contribute to the discussion and don’t attack people personally by using derogatory terms. (IE don’t say things like, “Well, you’re just a selfish person who doesn’t care about anyone else because you are opposed to this.” That adds nothing to the discussion other than your own immaturity.)

Cheers!

-swordofdestiny

How Do Popular Online News Sources Present the Same Information?

This morning, I decided to do an experiment. I decided to find a story common to Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, CNN, The Associated Press, BBC, The Christian Science Monitor (look it up on Wikipedia to understand its name), Al Jazeera English, the Huffington Post, the New York Times and the Washington Post  and compare-contrast them. I would advise against opening all of those sites at one time unless you have copious amounts of RAM to donate to them as most of them seem to have found web designers that absolutely love flash. That aside, this post will be rather lengthy. I’m also looking for several more conservative news sources to compare-contrast with these, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comment section.

My method to find a story. I found a story common to both the BBC and Al Jazeera English. The story I chose is about protesters in Thailand hurling their own blood at the home of their Prime Minister. However, several of the websites do not have that story yet. They have what happened earlier, the protesters hurling their own blood at the prime minister’s governmental office. Fox News and the Associated Press have both stories. However, as much as I like debate, try to be civil, don’t use terms like “Faux News” or the “Huffington Puffington Post”. Those terms are demeaning to both organizations and make you look less credible. Also, do not comment with the sole purpose to bash the Christian Science Monitor. Read this wikipedia article about their name. As much as I dislike censorship, I will not allow comments that use those terms or only bash the CSM (if it’s credible, I may edit your comment to conform to those standards). I don’t want to have to do that, so don’t make me. This article will be long and I’m sure there will be plenty of flak shot at me from both sides. As of 7:00 AM CDT (GMT-5) The New York Times, MSNBC and the Christian Science Monitor do not have stories on the blood hurled at the Thailand Prime Minister’s house. The Washington Post requires me to register to view their World News, which I refuse so they will not be included in this. I will compare the ones that have the current story. Let us begin with the more current story. I will post the first paragraph of each article and compare them at the end.

Fox News:

BANGKOK — Red-shirted protesters hurled plastic bags filled with their own blood into the residential compound of Thailand’s prime minister Wednesday, hoping their shock tactics will bring down his government.

Huffington Post:

BANGKOK — Red-shirted protesters hurled plastic bags filled with their own blood into the residential compound of Thailand’s prime minister Wednesday, hoping their shock tactics will bring down his government.

ABC News:

Red-shirted protesters hurled plastic bags filled with their own blood into the residential compound of Thailand’s prime minister Wednesday, hoping their shock tactics will bring down his government.

BBC News:

Thai protesters have hurled plastic bags filled with gallons of blood in a symbolic protest at the prime minister’s house in Bangkok.

The Associated Press:

BANGKOK (AP) — Red-shirted protesters hurled plastic bags filled with their own blood into the residential compound of Thailand’s prime minister Wednesday, hoping their shock tactics will bring down his government.

Al Jazeera English:

Red-shirted opposition supporters have spilt bottles of their own blood outside the entrance to the home of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai prime minister, in a symbolic protest against the government.

CNN.com:

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) — Anti-government protesters broke through a heavy police cordon Wednesday and splattered blood on the gates of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s residence.

Four of the seven news sources use the same first paragraph, word for word. The reasoning is simple, Fox News and the Huffington Post reposted the original Associated Press article. ABC has the same opening, but it has more information than the Fox News, Huffington Post and Associated Press articles. The BBC is very similar to the other four, but it is different. However, in accordance to AP Style, they’re all one sentence long. The most violent sounding introductory paragraph comes from CNN where it seems (in my opinion) to be spun to sound similar to a violent riot. Interesting how many different ways you can present protesters taking bottles/bags of their own blood and pouring it on/hurling it into the residence of Thailand’s Prime Minister.

Now, I’d like to know what you think. Should online news sources try to be as similar as possible? Should they try to write it differently than the other news sources while trying not to distort the facts? Should the reporters put their opinion somewhere in the article and designate their opinion and its political leaning? Are online news sources doing their jobs properly when they repost the Associated Press article? I want to know what you think.

Personally, I think reposting the Associated Press article is lazy, news organizations should be doing their own investigations on stories and not rely on another organization to collect their information for them.

Should Educators Embrace the Fact That They Are Biased?

One of Chris Pirillo’s latest blog entries, http://lgno.me/cBAHiG, caught my attention as I was nosing through Facebook this morning. One of the commentators (on the Facebook announcement) had said something about cloud education shouldn’t be biased. The problem with that is that it is impossible to make education unbiased. If you do try to remove all bias, it becomes incredibly bland. Try reading a book written in AP style (like my journalism text book). It’s incredibly bland, boring and laborious to read.
Would it be a better educational experience if an educator stated that they are biased? For example, say you go to a history class for the first day and your instructor states that they are heavily biased towards the left. That would tell you how that how they teach shows primarily the leftist way of thinking about it. If you went to a different history class and that instructor stated that their views aligned heavily to the right, you would know that the events in the class would demonstrate primarily the way conservatives view the events. I believe this would put more perspective into the class.
Now say that we start keeping tabs on what teachers lean which way, what happens if there is a large amount of teachers who lean left as opposed to lean right? Would you hire more teachers who lean right to help balance it out? Would there be a sort of affirmative action, but in the political spectrum? Then would you have schools, states, etc being sued because they’re being more partial to one political party?
I want to know what you think, would it be better for educators to embrace and state what their bias is rather than say nothing and let their actions decide?

A little about my bias: I am a conservative. I’m not a Reagan conservative, but I’m also not a George Bush conservative. I’m a Christopher Lee “swordofdestiny” Johnson conservative. I don’t model myself after other conservatives, I listen to an argument, research a little about it and then decide what I feel about it. Unless I’m bogged down by schoolwork, I generally pay a bit of attention to the #politics channel on irc.geekshed.net.

A Video Game and Handheld Console That You Might Have Missed

There are a few games coming out for the PS3 that have drawn my attention. While that is great for the PS3, I myself cannot afford another $300-500 system. However, I did find a Sony console that I wish I had purchased earlier. Sony’s handheld, the PSP. The Sony PSP was released in North America on March 24, 2005 and earned the title of “the most successful non-Nintendo handheld game system ever sold.”

Right now, the “top of the line” (read: most expensive) PSP is the PSP-Go. I wont lie, I lack the motivation to buy a $249 handheld console. So, I looked to eBay and snagged an earlier generation PSP for $100. In my case a blue PSP-2001. For those interested, you can get a PSP-3000 at GameStop for around $130 (at least at the one where I normally buy things).

The great thing about many Sony devices is that most of them, while being gaming platforms, are also multi-functional. For instance, if I’m at a Wi-Fi hotspot, I can play the game in the UMD slot, play a game I downloaded off of the PlayStation Network, surf the Web, use Skype, listen to music, listen to Internet radio, and watch videos.

The battery life so far seems to be sufficient. Did I mention that you can access the PlayStation Network store from the PSP itself and download classic PS-One games such as Final Fantasy VII and newer indie games such as Little Big Planet? This sounds like an advertisement, but in all fairness, here is a comparison to the features the Nintendo DS/DS Lite has built in.

Nintendo released the Nintendo DS in North America in 2004. In 2006 it was replaced by the Nintendo DS Lite. In 2009 Nintendo released the Nintendo DSi, which boasts a faster CPU and more RAM, requiring new development kits for the system. The DS sold incredibly well and marked the demise of the once popular Game Boy Advance. This comparison is between the PSP-2001 and the DS Lite. I own both systems and I enjoy both systems. They are both cheaper to obtain now as well. I do believe I paid $160+ when I bought my DS Lite. It was such a long time ago that I don’t remember. Either way, neither handheld device is over $150 now.

Positives: PSP-2001

  • Very bright screen
  • Access to the PlayStation Network Store
  • Good library of fun games
  • Variety of multimedia features such as Skype, Internet radio, mp3 playback, video playback, Internet browser, RSS feed, etc.
  • Great battery life

Negatives: PSP-2001

  • Volume even with headphones could be better
  • Too easy to get fingerprints on the screen (you say get a screen protector, but I’m comparing the two out of the box)
  • Have to buy a memory stick to use the device
  • UMD drive makes loud scratchy noises when reading
  • UMD movies

Positives: DS Lite

  • HUGE library of games
  • Dual screens
  • Touch screen when used for menus is AMAZING (IE Chrono Trigger)
  • Alarm clock
  • Can play Game Boy Advance games
  • Can chat to other DS users in the area

Negatives: DS Lite

  • No built in Web browser (I’m counting it as a negative as it is one of the few handheld devices that do NOT have a web browser)
  • No backwards compatibility with Game Boy Color games (if I want to play Pokemon Red, etc. I have to go find my Game Boy Advance SP)
  • No multimedia capability out of the box (IE no watching videos, listening to music, using Skype, etc.)
  • No access to the DS Shop
  • Touch screen is a bit gimmicky
  • As with PSP volume could be better

Honestly, both devices have their merits, but if you go down a straight feature to feature comparison, the PSP wins. However, the PSP has been outsold since day one. This may be due to there being a larger library of games for the DS or because of brand recognition with Nintendo, or even the DS Lite’s appeal with the casual gamer. However, with the feature list, those features may by large be redundant.

Most people (not including me) have a smart phone that takes pictures, browses the net, text messages, watches youtube (something the PSP cannot do even with the latest firmware [fix this Sony]), plays simple games, etc. So really in this market the games are the biggest sellers for both consoles. In my opinion, both consoles have their killer apps.

The DS has several such as The New Super Mario Brothers and two exclusive Zelda titles which are sequels to the Gamecube’s Wind Waker. The PSP has several as well such as God of War: Chains of Olympus, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. However, the DS has the larger gaming library and higher brand recognition which causes it to beat out a competent competitor. However, I do like both systems and am glad to have both. If you have to choose one or the other I would say compare the game libraries and find which one has games you would normally play.

Game Art for Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

I mentioned Crisis Core earlier. I picked it up at a local GameStop earlier this week and have been playing it off and on for a while now. I have yet to finish the game, but I believe I have played enough of it to give it a decent review. Crisis Core is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, one of the most popular games in the Final Fantasy franchise. It features something that is a first for Final Fantasy gameplay: hack and slash gameplay similar to that of Kingdom Hearts. Instead of sitting around and trading blows with the enemy you actively attack, dodge and block the enemy.

To be honest, I love the battle system. In the top left area there are three spinning slot machine type things which when the two outer slots land on the same person’s face it triggers a “modulating phase” screen. On this screen you hope that the middle picture lines up with the outer two. Originally, there will be only two characters that are not blanked out, Angeal and Sephiroth. If you have three of either you do a limit break that is essentially one of those characters attacks that they have taught to Zack. For instance, if you get three Sephiroth you do Octaslash, three Angeal and you get Rush Attack.

The story. At first I was kind of, eh, on the story because I figured “Well, it’s a prequel, whatever they do here, they have to undo by endgame.” So far, that has yet to happen. It still might, but I’m rather doubtful that it will.  The story so far has been rather engaging and comic at the same time. The FMVs in typical Square Enix fashion are well done and the voice acting seems to be just fine. However, is it me or does Zack’s voice actor have a lot of video game gigs?

Music. The music in this game is great. It’s mostly the Final Fantasy VII music revamped for this release, but it just adds atmosphere in this game. What I did find interesting is the music is the same inside and outside of battle. For instance if the area you’re in is under attack, you might hear the classic Final Fantasy VII battle music. If the are you’re in is peaceful, you’ll hear more tranquil music.

Overall, if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy VII, you need to buy Crisis Core.  It is a work of art and I am rather enjoying it. Also, Zack is not your typical angsty JRPG protagonist who complains about everything. He does seem rather fond of squatting though. Overall, if you’re looking for a decent handheld console and a great game, or if you already have a PSP and have missed this game, pick it up. Once I get a larger Memory Stick, I’ll review how Final Fantasy VII and VIII play on the PSP-2001.

We Express Ourselves With T-Shirts

There should be an image here!If you’ve heard of the album “Voices of the Lifestream” from OC Remix, you’ll recognize this artist. Mattias Häggström Gerdt who goes by the nickname Another Soundscape (anosou for short) on OC Remix has released his first album entitled, “We Express Ourselves With T-Shirts”.

This music will relax you. I really have enjoyed listening to this album. My favorite track on this album has to be “Stolen T-Shirt With Black Cat Print”. Anosou writes, “‘Stolen T-Shirt With Black Cat Print’ is built around a single sampled loop from a track called ‘Black Cat’ by Gentle Giant. While it’s probably somewhat illegal I couldn’t resist the organic, pulsating and oh so lovable track when putting together this album. Sorry about that copyright holders, at least I’m putting it out for free!”

After listening to the album, I hear my inner music lover yelling for more. This is a very gentle album. I want to hear a lot more from this artist in the future. The best part of this album is, it’s free to listen to. You can download it in mp3 or FLAC format. FLAC is a great format to listen to music in and it’s great when an artist releases their music in that format. Anosou stated, “I’m glad people appreciate that because it took me awhile to find a solid FLAC tool for OS X,” when I mentioned that I was downloading the FLAC version.

One of the things that really impressed me was how true the title of the album really is. When you see the t-shirts a person wears you can see what music they enjoy, if they do volunteer work, their sports team preference, etc. It also made me realize how many emotions we attach to the clothes that we wear. When you look at a t-shirt of yours, you can recall memories that you cherish. For instance when I look at one of the t-shirts from marching band I can remember the cheering of the crowd, the feel of the turf, the smell of the uniform and the feeling of having hundreds of people watching you perform. When I look at my All Region shirt, I remember the hours I spent trying to perfect three pieces of music. I remember being nervous in the audition room. I remember the jubilation of making it into the second round sitting 8th chair in the room. I really enjoy seeing the symbolism in things, which in my opinion makes this album that much better. I can truly recommend this album to you. If you like it, you get seven great tracks from a great artist. If you end up not liking it, all you will have wasted is a bit of bandwidth. Give it a download.

Download the album at http://anosou.com/?p=304

How Does “News” Make You Feel?

Lately, almost every story that is deemed “newsworthy” is about corruption, murder, insanity, or scandal. If anyone were to view the news reels from this era in the future, I strongly feel they would think we’re just a large bunch of angry, murderous thugs who were out to destroy the world and play with dogs from the SPCA once a week. Most news networks claim to carry the “news you want.” Where is our want in this? Do we want to hear of a famous pop star’s death for weeks on end? Do we want live coverage of Paris Hilton ordering a film crew to have live lobsters for her on demand?

Did the news share with you the story of sixteen younger men from the University of Texas at Arlington who gathered together and spent the night under the stars, two hours south of their scholastic home building brotherhood and friendship? Did the news share with you the story of the sixteen young men who spent several intense rounds playing paintball, returning to their scholastic home bruised, filthy and exhausted? Did the news share with you the story of these sixteen young men who after twenty-four hours of building brotherhood, friendship and maturity, descended upon a nursing home to spread the universal language of music?

Would you rather hear about people being murdered in the streets?

Would you rather hear another story about healthcare?

Would you rather feel what those sixteen young men felt singing for the elderly and realizing that they may have been the only visitor for a patient who might not have any living relatives? Would you rather hear of these men walking from room to room, singing to the elderly who could not eat in the dining room? Would you rather hear the joy and sense of fulfillment that burst forth from their hearts like the fiery plume of a launching rocket as they gathered into a large circle, put their arms on eachothers’ sore, bruised shoulders and sang their parting song before departing back to their homes?

Would you rather hear about the death of a porn star?

Where has all the good news gone? Does it still exist even if the news media decline to share it with those who choose to indulge in the information distribution that such corporations facilitate?

You decide.

Comments are welcome, but please for this article, you may say whether or not you would want to hear more stories based upon healthcare, but this is not the place to debate universal healthcare. I have another article dealing with that issue.

More information: The sixteen young men I was referring to are members of the Sigma Omega Colony of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and they partook in their Brotherhood Retreat and the Mills Music Mission. I am one of the sixteen and this weekend has been life-changing. I was almost to the verge of tears before the end of our visit. It was a very humbling experience.

Are You Truly “Green”?

It’s quite hip to be “green” these days, isn’t it? If you’re not “green,” well you’re destroying our environment. You’re killing all the cute squirrellies and bunny-wabbits in the forest. Make sure to only buy “green” things, and you’re helping the environment!

Wait a second. All these “green” people don’t want us to change the earth from its natural state, correct? If that is correct then you must all be hypocrites. That’s right, I said wrote it, hypocrites. Your first reaction, “No! I am not a hypocrite! I buy only green things! My carbon footprint is -50! Al Gore is God!” Okay, so you probably didn’t do the last sentence. Why am I calling these “green” people hypocrites? Let me ask a few questions:

Do these “green” people own:

-Cell Phones? Check.

-Computers? Check.

-Automobiles? Check!

=iPods/Portable Meda Devices? Check!

-Televisions? Check!

-Microwaves? Well Check and is this list through yet?

-Disposable diapars? Check, for any parents in the last… 20 or so years.

Hypocrites.

Being “green” is the latest fad. It’s not a cultural movement, it’s just hip to be green. If you’re not, you’re ostracised, called ignorant, called stupid, called almost any name in the book. They still drive their automobiles, they still use their cell phones, they still use electricity. What would being truly “green” mean?

First, use nothing disposable, nothing manufactured, not even clothes. Even if it was handmade, at some point down the line some part of it came out of a factory somewhere, came by truck to a store and you bought it. The closest people to being “green” would probably be the Amish people. Still, even they aren’t truly “green.”

They change the earth, they build houses, build fences, and subjugate animals. No one is truly green because if they were, they would die pretty soon. Even by walking, even by eating, you are changing an ever changing environment. You seek the self-satisfaction of saying, “Well, I’m ‘green’, my actions don’t hurt the environment! You’re not green, yours do! You’re ruining our beautiful planet and all the fish in the sea will die and we will stop breathing air and fish will lay dead in the water with an ‘X’ for an eye, breathing out smog. That’s what that cartoon thingy said.”

Don’t you see? Whatever side you’re on, the environment will change, we change it with every step we walk, every breath we draw into our lungs, even when we blink. (We move the natrual air molecules that shouldn’t be moved!) I’m sick of this. I call you “green” thumbs’ bluff. You can’t go truly “green,” it’s impossible. Now excuse me while I go about believing that there is enough doubt cast upon manmade global warming to warrant not believing in it. I know, heresy, right? Chase out the nonbeliever. Wake me when the fad is over.

Coming This Week!

I haven’t written in a few weeks, so here’s what’s coming this week. I plan on writing around four articles. I’ll give you their titles and short synopses. (They may not be published in this order.)

1. Why Isn’t There Any Heat On “Big Pharma?”

Big Pharma has profit ratings higher than even those of Microsoft and charge more and more for our prescriptions, but no one is going after them in this healthcare debacle going on in Washington.

2. Review of NCSoft’s “Aion”

Including screenshots and how I feel about the game.

3. What I Would Agree to be the Best MMORPG Concept?

Title is self explanatory.

4. Review of Image-Line’s FL Studio 9

(I may try to get this one out today.) Image-Line has released the newest version of what was formerly called “Fruity Loops,” but lately has been sporting the title “FL Studio.”

If you guys were missing me, look out. Destiny in Technology is back!