Archive for March, 2012

New Cubes Get!

Posted in Algorithms, Blog, Cubing on March 28, 2012 by slateman

New Cubes Get!

I ordered these cubes on Saturday and they arrived on Tuesday. Now THAT is service! I’m super thrilled as these are three interesting new additions to the collection. Now, I must say that I’m having a tough time with the Megaminx and am completely bewildered by the Windmill Cube. The Void Cube just has that one parity issue, but it’s rather fun. The others…I’m so confused. I don’t care though! I’ve got new cubes!

The Megaminx is solved largely like a standard 3×3, but wrapping my mind around that concept isn’t working too well. I’m just…so confused. The Windmill Cube (YJ Wheel Puzzle) is just too strange for me to grasp. I’m having such an hard time understanding how the entire thing works.

Void Cube Parity Algorithms
Swap UF with UR
R F’ L2 F2 U’ D R’ F B’ D’ F2 D F’
U2 R2 D R’ L B’ R2 F2 U D’ R’ F’ B U

Swap UF with UB
U F’ L’ B U’ R’ L2 D L’ D’ B R L2 U
F L R’ B U2 D’ F U L’ U’ L R’ D’ F’ R’

Newest Prometheus Trailer: How Can I *NOT* Be Excited?!?!

Posted in Aliens, Blog, Movies, Video on March 25, 2012 by slateman

I LOVE Alien & Aliens. The second is my favorite movie of all-time, I think. We’ve all heard that Ridley Scott was making Prometheus, a prequel to Alien. Wait…What? It’s NOT a prequel? But, but…but it’s got the space jockey and that ship is the same and…

OK, so it’s not officially a prequel but it’s a prequel and we all know it. I think he said it so we wouldn’t all expect face huggers and xenomorphs. Because, let’s say it were a prequel and there were no face huggers and xenomorphs, it would be a disappointment, right?

I’ve learned my lesson. I try to have low expectations for anything that could be utter friggin’ awesomeness. This is a perfect example. Prequel or not, this could be ├╝ber-amazing and for that reason alone I should have NO EXPECTATIONS. However, it’s time you watch something. It’s time you watch this, in its HD glory. It’s time to speculate, “WTF is going on?!” Yes. You are excited. You can’t help it. This could be utter friggin’ awesomeness. So, release your inhibitions and accept it. Now, wait until June 8th to find out if it does in fact disappoint you on a legendary scale. Because it just might. Or…….?

Psyched beyond comprehension – even if that is a very bad thing indeed.

Lydia, I’ve Moved On

Posted in Blog, Games, Skyrim with tags on March 25, 2012 by slateman


The pain of your loss was great. But I’ve fared well since losing you in Cragswallow Slope. In the months that followed, I’ve slain many a dragon, multiple pyromancers, and actually did a few missions! My trusty follower Anneke Crag-Jumper has been faithful and as useful in battle as you, Lydia. I know you would be happy that I’ve moved on. While I shan’t forget you, it is for the best. Your body is no longer laying face down in the brush. And I’ve moved on. Goodbye, Lydia.

What The PSVita Needs

Posted in Blog, Lists, Ys with tags on March 25, 2012 by slateman

I’ve got my sexy PSVita and have been enjoying it for quick, short games. My busy schedule lately hasn’t allowed for much dedicated time, but it is serving its purpose. That’s what I love about handhelds and the Vita has a lot of positives. The web browser, its multitasking capabilities allows me to pause and run other programs and I love that I can read messages from friends on either my PS3 or my Vita. However, it’s clear Sony launched this thing without it running at its full ability. There are some very basic things that will be added; I’m just not too patient about it. The fact is, these things should be there already. The hardware is fantastic. Like it’s PS3 brother, who launched without a very good store integration, no in-game XMB, etc. I’m excited about what is certainly to come. Let’s see…

1) PS1 Classics Compatibility
I don’t really know what happened here. I’m guessing it’s the software emulation. I figured that wouldn’t be a real big deal seeing as how it’s such old hardware and this *is* Sony. However, I have a few games on my PS3 hard drive that I’d love to play on-the-go. Symphony Of The Night is one of my favorite games ever. I’m hoping for full support before long.

Want More

2) PSP Compatibility
I know backwards compatibility is never an easy thing and I’m happy the Vita plays a ton of PSP games. There are a bunch not on the list though, and I’m really looking forward to playing Ys Chronicles on my Vita. How they’re going to roll out these updates, I’m unsure. Hopefully with each firmware update we’ll get more games added to the list and to the store.


3) Better Compatibility
Yeah, I realize…Three of the same category. However, this is what I’m looking for my Vita to do. When connecting to my PS3 to download videos I downloaded from the PSN, most don’t work. Wait…why? They are brand-new videos from the PSN! Nope. My videos? Nope. No WMV? I hate the codec, but playing videos on my gorgeous PSVita screen should be a breeze. Why it’s not is beyond me. Well, I can play videos I’ve downloaded. I just have to go through remote play. No…that’s not how it should be.

3) Better PSVita / PS3 Integration
Fighting piracy is no doubt one of Sony’s biggest goals and so I imagine the reason for this interface is just that. However, the Content Manager is a weak interface that is not smooth whatsoever. Copying files is not easy, the manager opens up the video and music programs individually (so why have the content manager?) and it’s all so very cumbersome. While waiting for wireless Vita/PS3 compatibility probably won’t happen (but should), I can’t stand the interface. Having to catalog everything on my PC so to use the same mediocre program is really annoying.

4) The Interface
Now, I quite like that we’ve moved away from the XMB. I loved that interface. I have a Sony Bravia, a PS3 and a PSP. It served its purpose but now with all touch-screen interfaces, I’m glad to be beyond that. While the new PSVita interface functions well, it’s awfully ugly. Will Sony ever change this a la the 360’s dashboard updates? I certainly hope so. There’s plenty that can be done to improve this. I can’t group games together, icons like the party icon look bad even for Nintendo Wii visuals and it’s not customizable at all. We know that Sony is fighting the smart phone market as well as the handheld. Getting the best of both worlds is not going to be easy but I’d love to have more abilities when it comes to tweaking the visuals.


5) More Apps
Again, this is a handheld gaming device, but it’s got Facebook and it should add more like YouTube support, etc. Walking that line between a smart phone and a handheld means it cannot be inundated with crap. However, I hope they support this like they do with the PS3 and add something. Specifically, I’d love to be able to detect media servers and to stream audio/video to the Vita. In fact, this is one of my biggest gripes/desires for the system.

Updated: Cube To-Buy List

Posted in Blog, Cubing on March 24, 2012 by slateman

With my new purchase in ‘shipping soon’ status, I’ve updated my wish list with some new stuff. I really thought I was almost done but I’m kinda interested in some of these different types of cubes. No rush on this stuff.

Master Skewb ($15)
QJ Megaminx (~$10, or $9) (or MF8 VII?) ($12.50)
LanLan Void Cube ($5)
YJ Wheel Puzzle ($8)
YJ Fisher Cube
SS 5×5
SS 6×6 ($23)
SS 8×8 ($88!)
Dayan ZhanChi

New Stuff
QJ 1x1x3 (6.50)
C4U 3x3x4 ($12)
LanLan Flower Rex Cube ($10)
Curvy Copter ($18) (or LanLan for $15)
MF8 Gigaminx (gonna be expensive…)

OK, do I *NEED* this stuff? Mainly, no. I do want a Megaminx though. The Void Cube & Master Skewb should be cool too. Then to start looking at the odd 3x3xNs. There are plenty of those to collect. Anyways, just some links for now. Future reference and all.

Borderlands 2 Trailer: The Best Trailer Ever?!

Posted in Blog, Borderlands, Games, Video on March 24, 2012 by slateman

I love Borderlands. I reached level 41 before losing my save game and then got to level 57 on a subsequent playthrough (well, more than one). Its DLC is incredible, the gameplay is superb and the second game is coming. This is going to be exciting.

I have to admit that I’m a bit skeptical. Can BL2 REALLY be as good? This is a tough one to ponder. However, after watching the video below…I don’t doubt any more. If this game can manage to be bad, then this trailer was even more effective. As is, I watch it and I’m totally pumped. How can you not be?! Oh man, I’m looking forward to this!!!

Cubing: New Order!

Posted in Blog, Cubing on March 24, 2012 by slateman

I’m psyched about receiving this one. It’ll be a while before I get it, but I am looking at a QJ Megaminx, a LanLan Void Cube and a YJ Wheel Puzzle. The latter is a lot like a Fisher Cube, but I don’t know much about it. Whatever, these should be new and exciting challenges, and all three were rather cheap! I’m so psyched!!!

New Cubing Record: 4×4 – 2:53.61

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records on March 18, 2012 by slateman

I’ve been solving the 4×4 a bunch lately, it’s so much more enjoyable now that I have the ShengShou, and it’s becoming a nice quick solve. This is something I can do in just a few minutes when I have a few to spare. I’ve given up on getting more than one color in the middle layer at a time, as it just slows me down. I realize it’s better, but I have a hard enough time figuring out which color is next sometimes. So, after a few runs this morning, including another sub-3 minute solve, I bested my record by just about 3 seconds. It’s not a wonderful speed, I guess my new goal is 2:45, but it’s something. I encountered parity in my last step, but that’s an easy algorithm. I truly hate having to do the long parity alg. The boy was ready for a nap, so he cried the entire last minute. Good thing I can tune him out. heh. So, 4×4, a new record, felt pretty good about things!

Uncharted 3: Six Reasons Why It’s Not NEARLY As Good As UC2

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Uncharted on March 17, 2012 by slateman

I got Uncharted and beat it in about 8 hours. It was phenomenal. It was precisely what I love about games. So, when I got Uncharted 2, I had high expectations. UC2 stands as one of the best games I’ve ever played.

So, when Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception launched, the anticipation was enormous. It’s hard to follow such a huge game and while the reviews praised UC3 with near-unanimous perfect scores, it wasn’t perfect. In fact, it was inferior to UC2. Why? Well, that’s why I’m writing this now.


Six Reasons

1) Elena
Elena’s character and interaction with Drake in the first game was charming, fun and light-hearted. I loved her in that game. She was rough, yet chill, the kind of girl you would want to hang out with. When Chloe was introduced in the second game, it gave the Drake/Elena relationship a new angle. It was still fun and exciting, and I wanted to see the two together at the end. The ending was great. It was fitting, silly and endearing. Perfect.

However, with UC3, their story was barely there. Now, I realize the purpose of the story was to flesh out the Sully/Drake companionship. But it lost the spark that made the first two entries so awesome. Sully is cool and all, but he’s no Elena.

UC2: Elena Rocks

I will say this though, if Naughty Dog did more of the same, they would’ve been criticized for that as well. I realize there’s no winning here. Speaking of…

2) Been There, Done That
I love, love, love games and stories that retell a tale. DoDon Pachi: Dai-Ou-Jou is essentially a remake of DoDon Pachi. GTA4 goes back to where GTA3 started it all. Homage to earlier days is fantastic. I just didn’t feel the magic in UC3. The ending sequence, where the floor is falling apart is the same thing as in UC2. It looks good, but it wasn’t as exciting because I already did the very same thing. Every time Nathan fell and hung on by one arm should’ve been WOW! and I just felt it was *Yawn*, I did this before.

That kinda sucks, because this game was exciting and well-crafted. It just didn’t excite me as much. One of the reasons…?

3) The Locales & The Treasures
The first Uncharted had me in lush environments with a deep, rich history. I was exploring areas that Sir Frances Drake visited, hundreds of years earlier! There was a WWII boat here, merging the old with the new, a strange but enchanting mix. There were green, vivid jungles, curious WWII scenes, a glorious background for a phenomenal story. What was grandiose in the first game was trumped by what may be the perfect game. A blend of jungles (once again), frozen Nepal, incredibly-detailed city streets, the monastery, each diverse and awesome. Both games made me feel I was walking into an ancient land occupied by the modern. Therefore, when I found a new treasure, it felt like it belonged there. The Mandala Thogchag actually sat there for years before I encountered it.

UC1: Such Awesome Locales

So, what’s wrong with #3? Well, the locations are diverse and all superbly detailed and well lit. There’s no question about the visuals. I just found the bar, Columbia and London’s subway system to be modern without that ancient feel. When you get to France, it’s cool, but again, loses the real mysticism. The same goes for the ship graveyard. The best stages are in Syria and the whole desert ending, but even they never quite made me feel like the first two games did. The treasures felt oddly located and out of place. Why was there an Ancient Minerva Pendant on the boat? An Ancient Gold and Coral Bracelet in a graveyard of rusting ships? I loved collecting treasures in the first two games. Now, it was a task. It wasn’t natural.

4) The Story & Cast
As with every sequel, more characters are added to keep the story moving. I usually prefer the originals, Shrek being a good example. The first is classic, quaint; this was before they added 25 characters and gave less and less time to each. UC2 was amazing though. Drake and Elena. Sully and Chloe. Perfect. The supporting cast did just enough and while the bad guy cast wasn’t super deep, Lazarevic and Flynn were fitting. I hated Flynn for betraying Nate (The subtitle Among Thieves explained right at the beginning) and was happy to see Lazarevic die at the end.

UC3? Drake’s Deception? Wait, what precisely WAS the deception again? Marlowe and Talbot were both weak characters for whom I felt completely indifferent. The outro fight with Talbot was so anticlimactic. I didn’t care! Cutter was OK. Chloe was barely there. The ending with Elena as OK but it lacked that sincerity of the second game. It all suffered from a lack of depth and passion.

UC3: Marlowe - Snore...

5) The Saving System
I REALLY hoped they’d fix this by now. I’m going to compare to the excellent Resident Evil 5 here. RE5 had one save game that kept track of which stages you’d beaten, treasures you’d collected, which difficulty you played on, how long it took, etc. Here, we’re stuck saving before we start any level, being forced to save when we leave a level (i.e. if you got the last treasure you’d needed), etc. It is all so cumbersome and totally unnecessary in 2011. It may be a small gripe, but as a gamer who wanted to go back to beat it on crushing, to collect the treasures, to relive the game, it was annoying.

6) All The Extras!!!
I understand that these were removed to keep the integrity of trophies and everything in place, but one of the best parts of the Uncharted series was lost. Level flips, no gravity, weapon select, fast/slow motion, these things really add the the replay value of a game. I may not be as die-hard a gamer as I once was; I have much less time to devote than I used to, but even I recognize the loss here. The single-player skins and movies were all awesome in the second game. I was rather disappointed to find out all this was lost.

What To Do In Uncharted 4

Listen, Uncharted 3 was great. It’s biggest downside was that Uncharted 2 was better. However, in order to make UC4 compare to the second game, it must fix a few things. Obviously the saving system must be addressed. In searching for a new, mythical story, I hope they go back to the mix of old and new as detailed above. While many may disagree, I would love for it to be a completely co-op game. Some of my favorite times with parts 2 and 3 were the co-op levels. Mat and I have sunk many hours into those modes and even they are better in 2 than 3.

And of course, extras should be added (but disable trophies). Since we know there will be an UC4, I do hope they can get back to what made 2 so great. I loved 3 but the entire time I felt it was lacking.

The Walking Dead: Finale On Sunday!!!

Posted in Blog, The Walking Dead on March 16, 2012 by slateman

Rick -- Shane

The finale of The Walking Dead is coming on Sunday. The first half of season 2 was a bit of a snore. I guess it was good for character development; it was not so good for zombie action!!! The second half of the season though has kicked total ass culminating in the Rick vs. Shane scene from above. It was awesome and I did NOT see that whole thing coming. As for the finale…MOTHERFUCKING ZOMBIE ACTION!!! It has to be. It will be. And it will be brutal awesomeness. I cannot wait!!!!!!!