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All the world's an arcade, and I have a bag of quarters
Monday, 21 January 2008
Too good not to share - part two
So good, I just had to share - part two Some of you may recall the original "So good I had to share post" I made awhile back (and if you don't, just check back in the blog history - there aren't many here, so it's not like it's all that hard to find.), and this morning while checking messages, I suddenly realized I hadn't posted the latest in that saga...

You see, about a month back, I was walking past that same McDonalds at night, and couldn't believe what I saw - it was another mistake that was just too good not to share!



Now I just can't believe that this one was an honest mistake - and no, I have not photoshopped this image - believe me, if I did, I would have done a better job of spacing the letters.

I'm not sure if that case is locked, but my guess is that someone walking by noticed they could get into it, took the "g" and shoved the letters closer together. Regradless, it's still pretty damn funny if you ask me.

Posted by nylatenite at 2:39 PM EST
Monday, 6 November 2006
CHILD'S PLAY CHARITY KICKS OFF DRIVE FOR 2006

It's time to take a break from all the Gears of War posts and talk about something that actually matters in the big scheme of things. In 2003, the folks over at Penny Arcade started a charity drive that collected gifts which would be donated to children who were seriously ill and would be spending the holidays in the Seattle Children's Hospital. The Child's Play charity drive was not only a chance help some kids who really needed a reason to smile, but also a chance for the gaming community to show that we're not the slackers that the media so often makes us out to be, but rather caring, generous people, who just like anyone else are thrilled when we get a chance to help those in need. The drive was more successful than they ever dreamed it would be as gamers across the nation and the world opened their hearts and wallets for a good cause.

As the years have passed, the Child's Play charity drive has continued to grow, and currently accepts donations to 28 children's hospitals worldwide. Last year alone, gamers donated over $605,000 in cash and toys to sick children, and in doing so hopefully brought some joy into the lives of countless of sick children. I don't know about you, but I can't think of a better way to truly embrace the holiday spirit than in helping someone less fortunate than yourself.

"Since 2003, gamers have banded together through registered Seattle-based charity, Child's Play. Over a million dollars in donations of toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children's hospitals across North America and the world have been collected since our inception. We collect no administrative fees or other charges, 100% of all gifts and donations go directly to our partner hospitals, to help make life a little brighter for a sick child. This year, we have continued expanding across the country and the globe. With over 25 partner hospitals and more arriving every month, you can be sure to find one from the map above that needs your help! You can choose to purchase requested items from their online retailer wish lists, or make a cash donation that helps out Child's Play hospitals everywhere. Any items purchased through Amazon or DStore will be shipped directly to your hospital of choice, please be sure to select their shipping address rather than your own. When gamers give back, it makes a difference!" - childsplaycharity.org

On November 2nd of this year, the 2006 Child's Play charity began it's annual holiday drive and to date has already raised over $50,000 in donations. The idea at it's base level is very simple. Go to the Child's Play Charity website here and pick the hospital you'd like to help. When you click on that hospital, you'll be taken to an Amazon.com wishlist that hospital has set up so you can see what toys and books the hospital could really use, and purchase them for facility. Amazon will ship your donation directly to the hospital, so there's little question that your donation will get to where you intended it to go. It's just that simple.

That said, when you have some time and a little free money, why not head on over to the Child's Play website and see how you can help out. Maybe it'll make up for all those times you fragged a buddy in Halo 2 because you thought it would be funny. Maybe.

 



 


Posted by nylatenite at 11:28 PM EST
Saturday, 12 August 2006
Best Coke commercial ever

I was checking out the news at Kotaku today when I saw this video - and I just have to share it. It is, without a doubt, the best Coke commercial I've seen in ages. Hell, if I wasn't already hopelessly addicted to Diet Coke, I'd run out and buy a case now. I can tell you this much, I'm having a Coke and a smile right now.

Grab a Coke and then watch the video below to see what you get when someone in marketing comes up with a brilliant idea and pulls it off wonderfully. Grand Theft Auto III meets Coke... just brilliant.

Of course, since Tripod still hasn't figured out the whole embedded video thing in their new blog system, you'll just have to click here to see the video.


Posted by nylatenite at 11:59 PM EDT
Thursday, 27 July 2006
THE VIEWSONIC SAGA CONTINUES

For this just joining our show already in progress, let me give you a breakdown of what's happened...

  1. I made the mistake of buying a Viewsonic N3250W 32" Widescreen LCD HDTV/Monitor back in early-mid February of this year.
  2. After 4 - 4 1/2 months of using this thing, it died for no reason one day. (And I babied this thing like you would not believe - some friends of mine actually made fun of me for the care I gave this thing)
  3. I call Viewsonic and am told that the monitor will have to go in for service. They tell me it qualifies for their Advanced Replacement Plan and that they'll fax me a form to fill out, I simply fax it back to them, they send out a replacement monitor and when it arrives I put the defective unit in it's box and ship it back. All of this at their expense. At this point, I'm feeling pretty good about the whole deal.
  4. I get the forms and discover that they require a security hold in the price of the monitor to ensure that you're not trying to rip them off. Since I don't have some $1,000 that they can play with until the transaction is completed, I call them back. (I guess hat falls in line with the stated policy of not having to explain the return process to customers)
  5. Now I'm told that in this case, I'll have to ship my monitor back to them first AND I'll have to pay the costs of shipping the unit to them. How exactly the fact that I have to send the monitor back to them first eliminates their covering the return shipping costs boggles the mind, but I reluctantly agree and pay DHL to pick up the monitor and ship it to them.
  6. I'm told once they receive my monitor, I should have it or a replacement back within 14 business days. Again, I'm not particularly happy with the amount of time this is going to take, but what are you going to do.
  7. I make all the arrangements with DHL, they pick up the monitor and deliver it to Viewsonic on July 5th.
  8. I hear nothing for 14 business days.
  9. I call them back following the 14th business day to get an update on the situation and am told "Didn't you get a tracking number?" - turns out my monitor has already been shipped out and is die to arrive on July 26th. Thanks for the heads up guys - I've been getting spam from you since the day you got my e-mail address, you've got it on file with my RMA #, but you couldn't think to tell me it was on it's way back.
  10. The monitor arrives. It arrives on it's side because the bottom of the box apparently wasn't sealed, and it's damaged as I described above.
  11. I call customer service and am told that this time they'll send me a free shipping label and that all I have to do is return the monitor to them and as soon as they get it, they'll send out a replacement. I get a new RMA # for the second return.
  12. I get the shipping label via e-mail. In reading the instructions and I discover that it does not cover (or allow for) UPS picking up the package at your residence. You have to take the thing down to your local UPS office. Greeeeeat.
  13. I call back and explain the situation to customer service, who again apparently must be staring blankly forward at their screens like fish looking at their reflections. I ask to speak to a supervisor.
  14. I explain the situation to the supervisor (along with the fact that I'm not happy about having to take time out to drag this thing down to my local UPS office) and am asked for my RMA #. I provide the new one and continue the conversation.
  15. I get told that I was sent a prepaid return label as a courtesy and that they didn't even have to do that.
  16. I lose it on the phone with this clown for awhile.
  17. I get told that since it needs repair, he'll have to open another RMA #... you know, exactly what they did 15 minutes earlier. Yup, he's not even looking at the right ticket. He's looking at the original ticket. He then tried to make it sound as if I gave him the wrong ticket number. (Usually I may even give someone like this the benefit of the doubt, but the fact the only number I had at the time was the new ticket number ensures I gave him the right one)
  18. I try to impress on this guy the reason why I just lost it on him and explain the above to him, including the constantly contradictory replies I've gotten from customer service and the fact that this is now going to be dragging into it's second month. This is when I'm told it's not Viewsonic's policy to explain the return procedure over the phone - that's what the one page, barely explains anything e-mail they send you is for. So... it's policy not to communicate with your customers? That sounds about right weighed against the experience I've had with Viewsonic so far.

Allow me to start this off by stating what should become the obvious - I will NEVER buy a Viewsonic product again. The customer service, or more accurately the lack thereof, I've experienced from this company over the last month while my monitor was in for repair has been pathetic at best. For the sake of your sanity, I would suggest you avoid them like the plague as well.

My monitor was due to return from from warranty repair today. Well, the monitor was in fact returned, though to be more accurate, it returned in a box that wasn't sealed on the bottom (I could find no sign of ANY tape holding the bottom of the box, nor could I find torn cardboard indicating it had been removed) and the monitor looked like someone had taken a hammer to the top of it. The case was cracked on one side, the LCD crooked, the top set of navigation buttons were caved in and the top seam of the case was apart. In other words, it was broken.

Time to call Viewsonic again. I call them and go through the whole story and am told that they'll send me a pre-paid shipping label. What they don't tell me is that that label will not include pick up service (which most companies offer for about $1 additional) - in other words, I'm going to have to drag this monitor down to my local UPS office. So I call again, explain that I'm not happy with the entire Viewsonic experience so far and ask to speak to a supervisor.

The clown I'm connected to has the nerve to advise me that they're providing the shipping label as a courtesy and that they don't even have to do that...

Before we continue, let me give you a little background on myself here... I'm the guy who always tries to see things from the other person's perspective. I'll usually tip at a restaurant even if service sucked, because maybe the person was just having an off-day. I'll accept having to run through a maze of flaming hoops from many companies just to get something over and done with. I don't get bothered by long waits or technical problems so long as you give me a reason why it's happening. Hell, despite what everyone else told me I should so, I even would go so far as to ship a defective monitor that I had been told I'd get free shipping on back at my own expense when a company reneges. In other words, I'm the guy you'd probably want to deal with if you were having an off-day and worked customer service.

That said, I utterly lost it on the phone with this jackass.

After all has been said and done, to be told that they're doing me a favor by picking up the return shipping on a poorly packaged and therefore damaged replacement monitor that I was sent because the previous product was defective was the final straw. I've gotten absolutely zero empathy from this company from day one and while I wouldn't say I've been lied to by their customer service department, I also wouldn't say they've been forthcoming about their policies either.

Some other highlights of my conversation with Captain Moron came when he told me that it wasn't customer supports job to explain the return procedure to customers, that's what the forms they mail to you are for and the discovery that for much of the conversation, he was looking at the wrong ticket number despite having asked me for the current ticket number at the very beginning of our conversation.

That's where it stands right now. I'm sure this situation will only get worse as time goes on as I have absolutely NO faith in Viewsonic as a company anymore. If I could, I'd ask for my money back at this time and call it a day, but since I didn't buy the monitor directly from the company that's not an option. The worst part? not only am I now going to not have had this monitor for 2 months, but apparently my 1 year warranty continues to run during this period, so by the time it comes back, I'll be into the 6th or 7th month of my warranty. Given the longevity of the product the first time around, I get the feeling that the question of how much longer the monitor has left is always going to be on my mind and be a constant worry - and soon it won't even be under warranty.

My advice at this point if you're in the market for a HDTV or monitor? AVOID VIEWSONIC LIKE THE PLAGUE. Bad products, horrid customer service, a horrid warranty program and a general poor attitude towards the customer do not equal a fun experience. I'll be updating this story as news warrants. Please, feel free to post your own comments, suggestions or Viewsonic horror stories in the comments section via the below link. (The add a comment link will be to the right of the article after the link)


Posted by nylatenite at 1:22 AM EDT
Saturday, 1 July 2006
Beer-Can Chicken

So I finally decided to try my hand at making a beer-can chicken. I've been hearing about them all over the place, and the idea of cooking a poor chicken with a can crammed up its behind cracks me up. Needless to say, I had to try it and today was going to be the day.

So I ran around like a nut trying to get all the ingredients and supplies I needed together, read about a billion different recipes on it, got the beer, got a chicken and fired up the grill.

I'll stop for a moment now and take a few seconds to explain the concept to those of you who are completely lost. A beer-can chicken is a seasoned full chicken that has been indirectly grilled (the coals are on the sides of the grill, not directly under the bird) in a bbq while sitting upright on a half-can of seasoned beer. The idea here is that the indirect grilling prevents the bird from burning or cooking too fast, the upright position helps all the fat burn off and drip out of the bird and the beer imparts a subtle flavor to the bird and keeps it moist. You can also add soaked wood chips (I did - even soaked them in beer) for a smokier flavor. They are by all accounts I've read, awesome tasting.

A little over two hours later, the bird was nice and toasty and ready to make it's final trip from the grill to the plate. It looked utterly delicious I must say, and the time spent after presenting it and waiting for the bird to cool was torture.

The bird on the grill just before being removed (above) and the bird on a plate in the kitchen (below) prior to being served. Yes, I am aware the chicken on the plate is breast-side down.

It's one of those things where I wasn't just curious as to how well it came out, but that I was hoping that it didn't completely suck, thus making everyone hungry and pissed at the same time. Nothing is worse than priding yourself on your BBQ skills and then making a dish that completely bites. People won't remember that great steak you made last month, but they'll remember that f'ed up chicken forever.

The moment of truth came, and I cut into the bird.. Before you think this is going to turn into some poultry horror story, it isn't. The bird didn't explode, wasn't undercooked, wasn't burned, and didn't emit some kind of noxious odor. In short, it tasted like... chicken... and therein lies the problem.

There was nothing magical about the chicken in general. I could have just crammed the sucker into an oven and gotten virtually the same results. It was tender, it was moist and it most certainly tasted like chicken, but where was the uber taste everything I had read marveled about? In short, where was the payoff for all the work?

It was in the skin, wings and legs. They were, from all accounts, delicious. While the breast meat of the chicken was fairly ordinary, the extremities tasted amazing. My guess is that the chicken was too big for all the seasoning to seep into the bird. I had a feeling the bird was a bit too large (it was an 8 lb roaster) but it was the only chicken I had.

Places where the meat wasn't overly deep had a great flavor while remaining just as tender as the rest of the chicken. Had the whole bird tasted like those parts, I would probably have been crowned "King of the Grill" on the spot.

So that was my first experience with beer-canning a chicken. Not the resounding success I had hoped for, but certainly not a failure either. I've still got two more roasters, so I may try again on July 4th. This time I think I'll let the bird sit awhile longer while seasoned, and I'll have to work on getting the seasoning under the skin and deeper into the bird.

Got any beer-can chicken tips? If it's not a family secret, let me know - I'd love to hear them.


Posted by nylatenite at 6:32 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 1 July 2006 6:41 PM EDT
Friday, 23 June 2006
This is why congress has no business getting involved in video game ratings...
Gotta love the Daily Show. This clip shows exactly why congress has no business getting involved in the debate over game ratings. I especially love the ending... "Seriously though, the House of Representatives is filled with insane jackasses." - that sentence sums it all up, doesn't it?

The Daily Show - Player Haters

Posted by nylatenite at 12:35 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006 12:37 AM EDT
Saturday, 17 June 2006
Too good not to share...

I was on my way to the supermarket the other evening to pick up some groceries since the 'fridge is looking pretty bare, and I noticed this little sign on my local McDonald's as I went by...



Now far be it from me to judge others, but giving out people as some kind of happy meal toy or something just strikes me as wrong. Just thought I'd share the laugh with everyone.


 


Posted by nylatenite at 5:04 AM EDT
Wednesday, 14 June 2006
Fantasy Football
I can just see you rolling your eyes right now and saying, “My God, its only June and this guy is already talking about Fantasy Football.” Well, excuse me for breathing, but if places have opened the doors for teams already, I can start planning, can’t I? Besides, you may not know it, but it's not just about football.

In the last 2 years or so, I’ve kind of had a falling out with Baseball. Sure, I still keep tabs on what the Yankees are doing, and could tell you about what’s going on in general terms, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve watched more than one or two games from start to finish this year. I just don’t seem to care as much anymore.

Football, on the other hand, has become a serious passion for me – and I think fantasy football had a lot to do with that. You see, fantasy football forces you to pay attention to the entire league all season – and more importantly, still gives you a reason to watch and things to root for even if your favorite team is stinking up the joint. You’ll find yourself suddenly aware of injury reports, player matchups and transactions that you previously wouldn’t even have thought of. If a player has an amazing game, you know about it because the score of someone else’s fantasy team skyrocketed because of it.

Yes Virginia, you’ll find yourself watching the Quarterback Challenge on the NFL Network during the off-season just because you need your football fix… and suddenly NFL Europe and the AFL don’t look that bad. The NFL draft suddenly becomes an all-weekend event for you. That’s when you know you’ve been hooked.

In short, I have a feeling that a big part of what’s driving the NFL’s ever growing popularity isn’t just team parity, but fantasy sports. You see, we may be at an age or point in our lives where we can’t get together with friends to play football, but we sure as hell can smack talk each other electronically all season long. It almost becomes like a family reunion once you get into a league that plays every year. You may not have heard from someone since the end of last season, but once that league starts it’s like they never left. I read once that in a study they found that the friendships men and women form are different in that men form friendships that are based on activities whereas women form friendships that are based on frequent communication. Sure that’s a generalization and you could argue it validity (or lack thereof) either way, but what I’m getting at is that fantasy football allows people to keep those ties fresh, even if your friends are far away – be they male or female.

So before you dismiss that fantasy football junkie you know as just a sports nut with too much time on his or her hands, remember one thing – it’s not just about football, it’s about playing with friends you may or may not have heard from in awhile and having a good time – and that’s always worth getting excited about.

Posted by nylatenite at 10:38 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006 10:40 AM EDT
Sunday, 4 June 2006
Weddings
Weddings. What is it about them that makes up reflect on our lives and the world around us? Is it the sense of community and universal well wishing they bring forth, or is it something as simple as seeing the looks of love and the hopes for the future on the faces of the bride and groom that make us reflect on the meaning of life?

As social creatures, there's always something compelling about events that bring large groups of people together, but somehow a wedding is more than just that - it's a time when the lives of people we know and care about change drastically, and with all our hearts we hope that that change brings nothing but happiness to those friends.

That change also makes us look back on where we've been as well, on where we are, our relationships with people, the ones that got away and on where we're going in life.

It's a deeply moving experience, as are many of life's important moments, and what each person takes from it is their own. What I took from seeing the look of joy on a friend's face today is that maybe I've been single too long and have lost sight of a few important things as a result. What I do with that knowledge is up to me.

In closing, I'd like to wish the absolute best to P.B. & T.A. on the start of their life together and all the days that will follow. For every moment of sadness you two may face together, may you know years of happiness.

Posted by nylatenite at 3:29 AM EDT
Friday, 26 May 2006
Damn, I think I need a clone
When I first started updating the site again (nylatenite.com), I figured this space would be good for at least a post or two a week running down some tidbit of news in detail or letting me ramble about some topic that has managed to bug the ever-living crap out of me.

What I've found is that just keeping the main site updated takes a whole lot of effort, and that by the time I'm done checking sources, writing (and re-writing) even the simplest little news blurb, posting on forums like Gamer's Lounge , I have no desire to do anything but play some games.

That's not to say I don't plan on keeping this blog updated, just to say that I haven't had the time to do what I'd like to with this space. Which is pretty indicative of life in the modern world, isn't it? Too much to do, too little time to get it done in.

Sheesh, I don't even want to know how hard it would be to keep up with stuff if I had a life! :p

Posted by nylatenite at 9:28 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006 9:29 AM EDT

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