Saturday, December 22, 2012

Video Games & Violence

     With all the respect in the world to the victims of the recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut I find it ridiculous some of the analogies that media outlets make between video games and violence.  I was reading an article from the Huffington Post this morning and the author presented information in such a way as to portray a direct link with video games and violent behavior.  The article can be found here.

      Here is a small section of the article that illustrates my point.
"Someone in the class brought in a video game called "Counter-Strike," a first-person shooting video game in which players compete against each other as either terrorists or counter-terrorists, Frost said.

Lanza "seemed pretty interested in the game," Frost recalled, and would play it with other students. He remembers the weapons Lanza chose: an M4 military-style assault rifle and a Glock handgun.

During the rampage at the school, Lanza used a military-style assault rifle and carried handguns, authorities said."

     So what I would like to know is what Lanza had for breakfast on the day he played Counter-Strike?  Is it possible that he had the same breakfast on the day he went on this rampage?  If so, perhaps we should look into why that particular breakfast causes violent behavior.

     Look, these facts are utterly absurd.  For one thing, this other person can remember the exact guns that another person chose in a video game during high school some 2-3 years ago?  That is quite a memory.  And besides that, the game is a first person shooter with military style weapons.  What other kinds of guns is he going to choose?  A water pistol or a Nerf gun?

     If first person shooters or even video games in general cause violent behavior then why do we not have so many more cases?  I have read estimates that Call of Duty: Black Ops II sold between 6.5 and 7.2 million units on the day it was released alone.  That is just one game!  Literally millions of people play Halo 4, Black Ops II, and Battlefield 3 every single day.  If we are to believe the media that there is some kind of direct link between video games and violence then where is the evidence?  While we are on that subject, how many people below the age of 40 have not played a single video game?  Chances are pretty good that if someone commits a horrific crime and they are below the age of 40 they have probably played video games at least once.

     It is time that we start taking a good hard look at the real evidence that comes out in nearly every single one of these cases.  There are people out there that need help.  They have emotional, behavioral, and in general some psychological issues that need to be addressed.  Perhaps we are not doing enough as a society to help these people.  We need to better identify these behavior patterns and make it easier for parents to get some assistance.  Maybe I don't have all the answers, but I know that linking video games to tragedies like this while the underlying behavioral issues are clearly the problem is just downright ridiculous.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Today is December 20th and this is weigh in day.  The weight gain has stopped at least for this last five day period.  I am now holding steady at 340 pounds.

I can tell that I am going to have a problem.  This time of year is packed with parties and celebrations.  It seems like everywhere you turn there are treats and goodies to tempt you.  Today we had a holiday potluck at work and there were cookies, burgers, hot dogs, and all manner of deserts.

I need to confess that on the 16th I went and saw the new Hobbit movie.  While there I had a bag of popcorn with a healthy amount of butter and an extra large Coke.  Overall, I have done pretty well with not drinking soda.  I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have had soda since October 22nd.  For me, that is amazing.

Another temptation is that I have a lot of cookies and chips at my house.  Also, my parents are coming to visit me for the holidays and it will be very interesting to see how I eat while they are here.  Typically I do fairly well on my own but when my mom or dad are cooking all bets are off.  They are much better at making home cooked meals so I will need to be careful not to eat too much.

Here is what I propose to do about this.  I honestly hate counting calories.  It is just so hard to stick with it.  Instead I am going to try to eat four times a day.  The key to this will be limiting myself to only one serving at each of those meals.  My downfall in the past has been consuming more than one serving per meal.  I will relax a bit on what I eat but by limiting myself to one serving I should also be able to limit my caloric intake at the same time.  Just as I have reported the times that I have had a soda so shall I report any time that I eat more than one serving.  Hopefully this will help me to stay on track as we enter the holiday season.

I won't make any commitments to walking since my parents will be here soon.  I do need to get that started up and perhaps as part of a future post will make a commitment to begin reporting on that as well.  My next regularly scheduled blog post will be on December 25th.  Be safe if you are travelling and I look forward to the next post.  Take care.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not Good

I have really been struggling.  I have been very stressed lately.  I am having trouble regulating my diet and it shows.  I have gained another two pounds since my last post.  I am now back up to 340 pounds.

I know the holiday season should be an enjoyable time but there is so much going on in my life right now that I feel like I cannot keep it all straight.  Between trying to start up my side business, my normal job, and my personal life I feel pulled in too many different directions.  Like a lot of people who struggle with their weight when I get stressed I tend to eat more than I should.

If I continue to look on the bright side I am still down ten pounds from where I was before I started this blog.  That just doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore though.  I need to work harder.

The next definite blog update will be on December 20th.  Goodbye for now.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Weight loss can be a lot like life in some ways.  There are highs and there are lows.  The last time I posted an update I was determined and things were going good.  Unfortunately, five days can make quite a difference.  I am going to keep this short because I am kind of upset with myself and down in the dumps.  I have gained back two pounds.  My weight currently stands at 338 pounds.

I thought I could get away with another trip to Macayos.  Their Baja Chicken is so good.  Like I tell my kids, you mess with the bull and you get the horns.

I keep trying to look on the bright side.  Sure I am down twelve pounds since beginning this journey but that does little to improve my mood right now.  Then again, maybe it is good to be mad and upset with myself as that usually results in me trying harder.  I will hopefully have better news on December 15th when I post my next update.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


December 5th is weigh in day and that means it is time to update the blog with the latest numbers.  I am down another three pounds since the 1st of December!  My weigh in this morning was 336 pounds which means that since October 22nd I have lost 14 pounds total.  I am excited!  Who knew weight loss could be so addictive.  I am as determined as ever and actually excited about sticking to my diet.

I have not had soda in some time now.  I think it is really starting to pay dividends because I have been able to have a few meals which I know were high in calories and yet turn around and lose another three pounds in the same five day period.  Things are going great and I am really enjoying this journey.

Walking needs to start happening though.  It seems like I always have a valid reason for not doing it and I am well aware that there will come a time when the weight does not come off so easily.  One of my friends had some good suggestions about ways to get in some exercise during the normal course of a day.  The reason I like walking so much is that I enjoy getting out of the house.  Either way, I need to step it up when it comes to exercise.

The next weigh in will be on December 10th.  I hope to have more good news to report at that time.  Until then, be safe my friends!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November 2012 Wrap Up

I want to begin by apologizing for not posting an update on November 30th.  I was busy and since I knew that I would be doing a monthly wrap up on December 1st I just decided to do one post today instead.  The month of November has come to a close and with it, the second chapter of my weight loss journey.  Another pound has been shed since my last blog update on the 25th of November.

In keeping with the honesty of this blog I did share a pitcher of Pepsi with my kids when we went to Organ Stop Pizza on the night of November 25th.  I love that place but while they do offer water it costs $1.50 per bottle.  Maybe I should have paid that but I have a hard time bringing myself to pay that much for water.

I have been sick quite a bit lately.  It seems to be making the rounds as many people I know have also been sick.  There have been a couple of times where I weighed and was down a lot but I know that was just from being dehydrated.

My weight has not been below 340 pounds in a while.  I am pretty excited to have that number in the rear view mirror with my weigh in this morning coming in at 339 pounds.  The weight is coming off kind of slow I suppose but I am staying positive because at least I am going in the right direction even if it is taking some time.

So, here is the wrap up for November 2012:
  • Total weight loss to date: 11 pounds
  • Total weight loss this year: 11 pounds
  • Total weight loss November 2012: 6 pounds
  • Total weight still to lose: 140 pounds
The next weigh in will be December 5th.  Hopefully additional progress will be made as I continue on this journey.  Thank you for following along with me and providing encouragement.  This is changing my life!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Little Shocked

Wow, I really am shocked with the results of this last weigh in.  I expected my Thanksgiving feast to have an impact but I never would have imagined this.  Plus I also enjoyed a pumpkin pie shake from Jack in the Box last night with my kids.  I figured a large was a bad idea but they are just so darn good.  I guess that is why this is kind of unexpected.  I have lost another four pounds since the 20th!  Had I known that eating copious amounts of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pie, and shakes was the secret to weight loss I would have started sooner!

I am kidding of course.  The truth is that between the few acts of legendary feasting I was very careful with my diet the rest of the time.  Like many things in life, balance seems to be the key.  If you do something excessive one day then you simply adjust for it later on.  I personally believe that just as your daily caloric intake should be monitored so should your weekly caloric intake.  If you exceed one day, take it easy the next.

One other thing that may be helping is I started taking vitamins again.  I am sure that there are times when my diet lacks certain essential vitamins (vitamin C comes to mind) and so hopefully this helps in some small way.  What do you think?  Should vitamins continue to be a part of my routine?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Total weight loss to date stands at ten pounds.  I now weigh 340 pounds.  Nothing to be proud of but it is progress.  Losing weight truly has to be a lifestyle change.  Slow and steady will hopefully win the race.  I need to lose another 141 pounds to be below two hundred.  Lets do this!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

     Today is Black Friday.  People can save quite a bit or money by taking advantage of sale prices at various retailers.  Whether shopping at brick and mortar stores or online retailers many of the exceptional sales apply to video game related items.  Often times great value can be found on game consoles, gaming accessories, and the actual games as well.

     This can be quite overwhelming to anyone who does not know where to start.  Many retailers will set up a special Black Friday page on their retail website.  I recommend visiting which provides links to retailers' Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend sales.  When going to brick and mortar stores remember to be safe as people do get a little crazy at times.  Good luck!

Thanksgiving Bloat Gut

Thanksgiving is one of the few times per year that we are allowed to eat ourselves into a food induced coma.  I was graciously invited to spend Thanksgiving with some friends.  It has been a while since I have had such wonderfully prepared food.  They really did a wonderful job and I am so blessed and thankful to have friends like these to spend this holiday with.

Unfortunately, because everything was so good I did eat more than I had originally intended.  I opted for both seconds and pie later on.  So, this just means that I will have to take it easy for a while which I have had no trouble doing since I am still feeling full even a day later.

Thanks to the family that brought me into their home to share a wonderful Thanksgiving day with them.  Words can not express how much it means to me.

Thanksgiving Halo

     I have finally completed the Halo 2 campaign on Heroic difficulty this Thanksgiving day.  The end was a bit of a challenge and so it should be very interesting when I get to the end of the game on Legendary difficulty.  I have beaten the game on every difficulty now except for Legendary.  I enjoy playing games through on all the difficulties to see how the developers increased the level of difficulty.  Did they simply increase the number of enemies, make the enemies stronger, or a combination of both?

     Now that I am finally working on Legendary I may soon be able to put Halo 2 down and move on to the next game in my list.  Then again, I was working on Heroic for a very long time and from what I hear Legendary will be a huge challenge.  I am told that the Legendary difficulty of Halo 2 is the most challenging of any of the other Halo games.  Since I really only watched the opening cinematic and played some of the first stage this is hard for me to judge.  If it is as difficult as I am told, then I may be playing this for the next year.  Have any of you completed Halo 2 on Legendary?

Black Friday

     Today is Black Friday.  People can save quite a bit or money by taking advantage of sale prices at various retailers.  Whether shopping at brick and mortar stores or online retailers many of the exceptional sales apply to technology related items.  Often times great value can be found on television sets, computers, tablets, smart phones and the like.

     This can be quite overwhelming to anyone who does not know where to start.  Many retailers will set up a special Black Friday page on their retail website.  I recommend visiting which provides links to retailers' Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend sales.  When going to brick and mortar stores remember to be safe as people do get a little crazy at times.  Good luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Right Direction

Hello friends.  Today is November 20th, 2012 and I owe you a weigh in.  Today I am back headed in the right direction after my last post detailed a two pound weight gain.  When I weighed in this morning I was happy to see that I have lost another pound.  My total weight now stands at 344 pounds.

I have read many times that healthy weight loss is between one to two pounds per week.  In two days it will be one month since I started this journey and total weight loss to date stands at six pounds.  That number is probably about right given the amount of time I have been at this.  I am sure that I could achieve much higher numbers by going to extremes but when I have done that in the past I usually gain it all back plus more.  I do not want to do that this time.

There is not much else to report.  Except perhaps that I have not done anything in the way of activity like walking.  Every time I have had a night without my kids I have had side work.  I need the extra work so I am not complaining at all.  As soon as things settle down a bit I will start walking.

The next weigh in will be on November 25th.  Just 145 pounds to go to be below two hundred.  Thanks again to everyone following this blog and your words of encouragement.  I cannot describe how much it means to me.  If I have anything to share between now and the 25th I will be sure to post it so check back as often as you like.  At the very least, you can expect the usual weigh in update on the 25th.  Goodbye for now.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Xbox Live Turns 10 - Free Game Wreckateer

Today, November 15th, the Xbox Live service turns 10 and to celebrate they are offering savings on select games.  In addition, you can also pick up a free copy of Wreckateer.  This is a Kinect game in which you use your body and a catapult to wreck castles.  I will provide updated feedback on the game once I have played it a bit more.  For now, grab your free copy while you still can.  It will probably only be free today.

Two Steps Back

Today is November 15th and this is weigh in day.  This time the numbers were not in line with my goal as the title of this post suggests.  I have gained back two pounds.

I had a feeling this might happen.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post I was sick a couple of days and felt that it had contributed to my weight loss.  I also did a few other things that I knew might have a negative impact on my goal.  I am referring to eating out and going to the movies where I shared a soda and candy with my kids.  This reinforces that I need to be very careful with my diet.

I said I would be honest with the soda consumption so here is another confession.  I did steal a drink of my daughter's soda last night just to see if she would notice.  It is kind of funny, my kids have been really supportive but also tough on me.  They are not going to let me cheat.  Which kind of makes me feel guilty for swiping that drink.  That is a good thing.

I have to admit that I am a little bit disappointed.  However, I have said many times I recognize that this will not happen quickly.  Tempering my expectations helps some when I run into a set back like this.  It is time to add walking to the mix.  On nights when I do not have my kids I will start to walk and see how things go from there.  I enjoy walking and the cool temperatures will be a plus.  This is one of the positive things about living in Arizona.  While many regions are freezing at this time of year I get to enjoy cool walks at night.

To summarize where I currently stand I am now only down five pounds with 146 more to go to be below two hundred.  Time to step it up!  Thanks to all of you for your support and words of encouragement.  It really is appreciated.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Full Disclosure

I promised to be honest on this blog and I stand by that.  Today I did split a large Pepsi with my kids at the theater while we watched Wreck-It Ralph.  I also had some candy.  Maybe it is not a big deal but I do want to be completely honest whenever I do something like that.  In the beginning I said that my relationship with soda was over...and it is.

Before I started this blog I would have soda throughout the entire day.  It was almost all that I ever drank.  This was the first soda I had since 10/22 and to be honest it was nothing special.  In some ways, it tends to reinforce my willpower that I can live without it. 

Wreck-It Ralph was a good movie by the way.  If you are a gamer you will recognize all sorts of game related references but even if you are not it is an enjoyable movie.

I am back to business as usual now.  No more soda, no more candy, and no more Mexican restaurants for quite some time.  Please leave me your thoughts on this post.  Did I fail or is it alright to indulge once in while?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cold Day In Arizona

Today was cold by Arizona standards.  As I write this it is 53 degrees outside.  This is my favorite time of year in Arizona.  The weather is just perfect.  The high tomorrow is expected to be 61 with a low of 39.  I love it!  The days are still sunny but the temperature is just right.

On to the business at hand.  It is November 10th and this is weigh in day.  I was sick a couple of days this week and I think that helped contribute to me losing another pound.  My current weight stands at 343 pounds.  At least it did this morning.  I took my kids out to eat tonight at a Mexican restaurant called Macayos.  I probably gained two pounds just from that meal alone.  At least I only drank water and not soda.  I will just have to make up for it by taking it easy on the calories for the next few days.

I have been drinking ice tea with sugar and stevia.  It tastes really good.  It reminds me of the sweet tea we would drink as kids that mom used to make.  I mean that mom used to make us make.  Hopefully she does not read that last comment.

To summarize my progress so far I have lost seven pounds total and need to drop another 144 pounds to reach the goal of weighing in below two hundred.  My next weigh in will be November 15th.  Let's see if eating at Macayos hurt my goal.  Later!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Plead The Fifth!

Just kidding.  I tried to make a joke given that today is the fifth of November.  That means today is official weigh in day!  So today my weight was kind of borderline so I weighed three times.  Two times I weighed 344 and once the scale read 345.  Lousy scale!  We will go with the 344 given that it happened twice.

I have been doing better with not eating out.  Last time I reported that I was struggling with it but things are better now.  I went out and bought a lot of groceries so I should be set for a while.  It is typically when I run out that I feel the most pressure to grab something quick like fast food.

So something else came up this last week that I thought was kind of interesting.  Remember how I said in one of my previous posts that I was not even tempted by soda anymore?  Well, I have been wanting to see the new Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph and as I was contemplating when I might be able to go and how much it would cost I automatically factored in the cost of a soda.  I know they are outrageously expensive at the theater but the thought of seeing a movie without a soda was a bit of a downer.  I don't know why, but whenever I go to see a movie at a theater I always like to have a soda. Interesting how two separate things can be linked like that in one's mind.

I am also going to try something different at the urging of one of my friends.  This friend suggests that I not use Splenda in the ice tea.  So I have decided to try a low calorie alternative in the form of C&H All Natural Sugar and Stevia mix.  It does have calories but at least it is all natural right?  I guess I will find out how it works soon.  I just used all of my Splenda and so I will let you know in a future blog post how this other option works out.

So overall I am now down six pounds.  145 more pounds to go to be below two hundred.  The next weigh in will be on November 10th.  If I do not post anything sooner, I will post then.  Take care everyone!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October 2012 Wrap Up

The month of October has come to a close and with it, the first chapter of my weight loss journey.  As I suspected there was no additional weight loss since the weigh in on October 30th.  I still weigh 345 pounds although I did weigh four times; two read 345 and two read 344 but when in doubt I go with the high number.

I need to be careful.  I have found myself eating out a bit more frequently.  I always go with something cheap and therefore not substantial but it is a habit that I do not want to fall back into.  I am confident that I am not exceeding my calorie goals for the day but I would rather not eat fast food.  Curse the convenience and the fact that they are located on every street corner!

So, here is the wrap up for October 2012:  (This is for you Jewels...bullets!!!)
  • Total weight loss to date: 5 pounds
  • Total weight loss this year: 5 pounds
  • Total weight loss October 2012: 5 pounds
  • Total weight still to lose: 146 pounds
Next weigh in will be November 5th.  Hopefully there will be some more progress to report on that date.  See you next time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sweet Progress

Today is October 30th and do you know what that means?  It is time for weigh in number two!  I had actually been peeking a bit throughout the week so I had a pretty good idea of what the numbers were going to look like.  Today the numbers become official.  I am down another four pounds since the last weigh in taking my official weight to 345.  Total weight loss so far is five pounds.  This leaves another 146 pounds to go in order to for me to be below two hundred.

Going without soda has become very easy for me now.  It is not really even a temptation anymore.  I carry a case of bottled water around with me in the trunk of my car and so I always have access to something to drink.  I am also drinking ice tea with Splenda and I find that it really helps to offset the lack of taste that comes with plain old water.

I have done very well with the meals also.  I have actually increased the number of meals throughout the day but limited the portions.  Hopefully this is making a difference in addition to giving up soda.

I am excited about the progress but know that I must temper my expectations going forward as it always gets harder to keep losing weight.  To keep making progress I am probably going to need to ratchet up my level of activity.  Perhaps walking or playing more Your Shape Fitness Evolved on my Xbox 360.  I know this may sound crazy but I think I am actually feeling a bit better already.  My next weigh in will be on November 1st.  I do not actually expect to lose any weight between now and then given that it is only two days away but we shall see.  The November 1st post will summarize the month of October and look forward to the month of November.  Check back soon!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

1 Down, 150 More To Go!

Judgment day has arrived!  I promised a weigh in and I am delivering a weigh in.  You probably already guessed the result based on the title of the post.  I lost one pound!

I am not discouraged.  This was only three days and one pound in three days is probably pretty good.  I knew this was going to be a long drawn out journey which is why I bought a web domain and started this blog.  If it were easy to lose weight then everyone would do it.

I feel like it is getting easier to go without soda.  Yesterday I had a pretty good headache which I am sure had to do with cutting caffeine out of my diet.  I am considering drinking ice tea with Splenda just for something with a little flavor.  I could also do the little flavor packets that you add to water but I have noticed that those tend to upset my stomach.  Does anyone else have that problem?

October 30th will be my next weigh in and I hope to continue the downward trend.  This weekend will likely get busy so I may not have a chance to post any other updates between now and then.  You can count on a post on the 30th though with numbers.  Hopefully good numbers.  Until next time, take care my friends.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 1 Summary

Today was rough.  I did not get any real bad headaches but I did feel tired all day.  No caffeine will do that to you I suppose.

It is hard to give up soda.  I drank it a lot.  My poor kidneys are probably in shock not having to work so hard.  I have tried a few times in the past and was fairly successful once but then I got the bright idea that I could manage it.  Just a soda or two a day would not hurt.  Then I would fall right back into the old habits of having a soda with every meal.  A soda while I would play games.  A soda to help me get going in the morning.  A soda to help me sleep at night.  Just kidding about that last one...kinda.

I need to focus on the positive aspects of giving it up.  In addition to the weight issue, I will save a lot of money.  Many times when you eat out the drinks are outrageous.  That makes me splurge all the more.  Hey, if I am paying $2.50 for a Coke then I am getting another refill and when possible, a to go cup.

I did better on the meals as well.  I would be surprised if I consumed more than 2500 calories for the day.  We should know how things are going on the 25th and I can make any necessary adjustments at that time.  If I do not blog anything tomorrow I will definitely have a post again on judgment day...Thursday, October 25th 2012.  Until next time my friends.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I have been putting this off for far too long.  I owe it to myself and my kids to change this now.  I just weighed and I am back to 350 pounds.  I am 38 years old and will soon be 39.  Tonight was bad.  I was busy and I fell back into that old habit of just getting something food!  Between fast food and my love for soda I am slowly killing myself.  Who knows, maybe it is not so slow.

I decided to make a public blog of my struggles so that I can be accountable to whoever wants to follow this blog.  I have never been very open about my struggles with weight.  In high school I was in great shape.  I was 175 pounds as a senior.  I had six pack abs.  When I went to college all of that started to change.  Here I am today, quite frankly in the worst shape of my life.  My goal will be to get below 200 pounds so I have a long way to go.  This changes now.

For starters, my relationship with soda is over.  From now on it is good old H2O.  I cannot stand the lack of taste but hopefully I will get used to it because I am not going back.  If I fail, I will be completely honest on this blog.  I will limit fast food.  I will continue to post my weight.  I will plan to do so every fifth day.  I will blog about it at least that frequently.  I will next weigh in on the 25th of October. And so it begins...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happy Wars: Free to Play Xbox Live Arcade Game

     The game Happy Wars was released on Xbox Live on 10/12/2012.  The game is the first free to play title offered on the service.  Free to play is a concept where users are allowed to download and play the core experience for free.  Players then have the option to purchase premium content to use in the game if they choose.

     I downloaded the game this morning and it is fairly entertaining.  My kids seem to really enjoy it.  There is violence in the game as you fight other characters with swords and different weapons but there is no blood.  The game is rated T for Teen.  I will post some updated impressions once I have spent some more time with the game myself.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Windows 7 Taskbar: Features and Settings

     Windows 7 includes many new features as well as some returning features related to the taskbar.  The taskbar is the bar typically at the bottom of the screen with the start button on the left and the time and date on the right.  The image below is an example of the taskbar in Windows 7.

Windows 7 Taskbar

Moving the Taskbar

      The first topic we will be covering is how to move the taskbar from the traditional bottom position. With the mouse pointer hovering over an empty area of the taskbar right click the mouse button and a menu will open.  Check the status of the "Lock the taskbar" option. If there is a check mark next to it then left click the "Lock the taskbar" option to remove the check mark. If there is no check mark then the taskbar can be moved around the screen. To move the taskbar simply left click and hold on an empty area of the taskbar and drag it to either the top, the left, or the right side of the screen. When the taskbar is in the desired location simply release the left mouse button. The taskbar will now be docked to that area of the screen. To lock the taskbar so that it cannot be moved simply right click on an empty area of the taskbar and left click "Lock the taskbar" to place a check mark next to it.
     To see a demonstration of the topic discussed above please watch the tutorial video below.

Pinned Programs

     Windows 7 has Internet Explorer, Libraries, and Windows Media Player pinned to the taskbar by default. There are multiple ways to pin more programs to the taskbar in Windows 7.  Users can pin a program icon from either the desktop or the start menu by left click and holding while dragging the icon to the taskbar. Once the icon is over the taskbar a message will appear that reads "Pin to Taskbar".  Releasing the left mouse button at this point will as stated pin the program to the taskbar.  Users can also pin any open program simply by right clicking the icon on the taskbar and selecting the menu (jump list) option "Pin this program to taskbar".  Finally, users can also left click and hold the icon of any open program on the taskbar and drag it straight up (or if the taskbar has been moved from the bottom, whichever direction is perpendicular to the taskbar). This opens the same menu (jump list) as right clicking the icon. Release the left mouse button once the menu has appeared and left click on "Pin this program to taskbar".
      To unpin a program simply right click on the pinned icon on the taskbar which opens the menu (jump list) and select "Unpin this program from taskbar". Users can also left click and hold the pinned icon on the taskbar and drag it straight up (or if the taskbar has been moved from the bottom, whichever direction is perpendicular to the taskbar). This opens the same menu (jump list) as right clicking the pinned icon.  Release the left mouse button once the menu has appeared and left click on "Unpin this program from taskbar".
     To see a demonstration of the topic discussed above please watch the tutorial video below.

Thumbnail Previews

     Windows 7 also includes thumbnail previews from the taskbar. These previews can be useful when multiple instances of the same program are running (web browser for instance) and one needs to quickly select the desired instance. By hovering the mouse pointer over the program on the taskbar the thumbnail preview will pop up. If the cursor is moved over the thumbnail preview and hovered the previewed program will show full screen. Left clicking on the thumbnail preview will make it the active window. The program can also be closed from within the thumbnail preview by moving to the top right corner of the preview and left clicking the red X.

     To see a demonstration of the topic discussed above please watch the tutorial video below.

Jump Lists

     As previously mentioned, jump lists are the menus available by either right clicking an icon on the taskbar or left click and holding and dragging perpendicular to the taskbar. The jump lists contain options specific to the program. For example, the jump list for Microsoft Word might contain recently opened Word documents whereas the jump list for a web browser might have frequently visited sites. These are just a few examples of the options inside of a program's jump list.
     To see a demonstration of the topic discussed above please watch the tutorial video below.

 Notification Area Icons

     The icons that exist just to the left of the time and date are known as the notification area icons. By default there should also be a show hidden icons button that kind of looks like an up arrow. If this is left clicked then more icons can be seen. Typically the volume, network, power (if laptop), and the action center icons (if any actions are recommended) are displayed. There are two easy ways to customize which icons show up next to the time.
     The first method is simply to drag the icons back and forth. By left clicking on the "Show hidden icons" button users can then left click and hold and drag one of the icons down to the visible notification area.  When the left mouse button is released the icon will now show there instead of being hidden. Conversely, users can can also left click and hold and drag one of the shown icons to the "Show hidden icons" button and drop it there by releasing the left mouse button.  The icon will now be a hidden icon instead of being displayed visibly next to the time and date.
     The second method is to left click on the "Show hidden icons" button and then left click on "Customize". This will open the Notification Area Icons menu where users can change the way each icon behaves by left clicking the drop down menu next to the appropriate icon and then left clicking the desired behavior. Each icon has three options detailed below.
  1. Show Icon and Notifications: This will place the icon in the visible notification area to the left of the time and date and notifications will pop up.
  2. Hide Icon and Notifications: This will place the icon in the "Show hidden icons" area and notifications will not pop up.
  3. Only Show Notifications: This will place the icon to the "Show hidden icons" area but notifications will still pop up.
     In addition to the three settings for each icon the Notification Area Icons menu also has an option called "Turn system icons on or off". By left clicking on this item users have the ability to further customize this area of the taskbar by left clicking the drop down menu and then left clicking on the desired setting like turning the clock on or off. If mistakes are made, left clicking on the "Restore default icon behaviors" will reset any icon changes back to their default settings.

     To see a demonstration of the topic discussed above please watch the tutorial video below.

     Please leave a comment with your questions or suggestions. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Walking Dead Game (Update)

     Just thought I would post a quick update to my impressions of the game.  In case you missed my initial impressions you can find that blog post here.  I finally finished the first episode of The Walking Dead Game.  Here are some of my thoughts.

     The storytelling is very good.  The characters are interesting and the graphics are engaging.  Speaking of graphics, they look a lot like a 3D version of a comic book.  The audio is solid as well making good use of 5.1 Dolby Digital.  I found that the controls take a little getting used to and can be a tad frustrating when you need to do something quick.

     As I said in my previous post the developers wanted to emphasize choice and in that they have succeeded.  One of the things that makes the choices interesting is that you are often given very little time to give a response.  I never really felt like I did not have enough time to read all of my dialogue options but I did feel like I was not given much time to consider them.  This adds to the drama and the feeling that you have to make split second decisions.  It adds a sense of realism in a way as most of the time when interacting with others you do not have all day to consider how you should respond to a given situation.

     The game does utilize a rewind feature that lets you replay any segment over again.  These segments are basically checkpoints and typically consist of either an action scene or a dialogue scene.  This is very convenient when you accidentally choose the wrong dialogue response or regret a decision that you made earlier.

     I am definitely enjoying the game and am fairly confident that I will be picking up episode two very soon.  I highly recommend it for fans of classic adventure games or The Walking Dead series.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Halo: Combat Evolved Unboxing and A Look Back

     Halo: Combat Evolved was released on November 15, 2001 as one of the original Xbox launch titles.  The game holds the distinction of having the highest Metacritic rating for an original Xbox game (97).

     Leading up to the launch of the original Xbox many felt that Dead or Alive 3 (aka DOA 3) would be the game that drove Xbox console sales.  Certainly DOA 3 was a great game and a system seller but Halo: Combat Evolved seemed to take everyone by surprise in terms of quality and entertainment value.

     The importance of this first entry into the Halo franchise cannot be over emphasized.  So what makes Halo: Combat Evolved so important?
  1. The graphics were arguably not the best amongst the launch titles.  That distinction would probably have to go to DOA 3.  That being said, Halo was no slouch in the graphics department.  Impressive draw distances coupled with vibrant colors and rich textures ensured that gamers would not mind staring at the screen for hours on end while completing Master Chief's story or partaking in the multi player offerings.
  2. Sound on the other hand was head and shoulders above any other launch title or most of the games that launched after it.  The use of 5.1 Dolby Digital was very well implemented.  Something as simple as footsteps had appropriate sound effects based on the surface that was being walked on.  The soundtrack by Martin O'Donnell created mood and atmosphere that immersed gamers even deeper into the Halo universe.
  3. Physics were also a strength of this game.  Explosions often had a very interesting effect on objects in the game world.  For a prime example of the physics in Halo: Combat Evolved check out
  4. The control scheme was also well executed.  It should be pointed out that up until Halo: Combat Evolved most first person shooter games were not very successful on consoles.  Halo changed all of that with a control scheme that most new players to the genre were able to pick up and have some success with but deep enough that players were rewarded for continually honing their skills.
  5. If gamers came for the story of Master Chief, then they stayed for the multi player.  Whether playing four player split screen on the same TV or using the game's LAN features the multi player struck a unique balance of strategy and skill.  The game also provided a healthy dose of match types as well as the ability to modify settings within those match types to keep things fresh.
     When we take all of these points into consideration it is easy to state that Halo: Combat Evolved was the most important original Xbox launch title.  But how important was the game to the original Xbox platform as a whole?

     The landscape of the video game market might be entirely different were it not for this game. Would the Xbox have had the commercial success that it did? The original Xbox was never the market leader during that generation of consoles. The Playstation 2 held that distinction. So, were it not for this system seller is it out of the realm of possibility that there might not have been an Xbox 360 console?  There would not have been Halo 2 which was a huge success for the Xbox Live service.  Halo has turned into a multi-billion dollar franchise for Microsoft.  The original Xbox and even the Xbox brand have benefited immensely from the success of Halo: Combat Evolved.

A Look Back Rating (1-10):                                                       10

     I have also created an unboxing video of Halo: Combat Evolved plus a rather comical unboxing video of the "official" strategy guide.

Halo: Combat Evolved Unboxing and A Look Back Video

Halo: Combat Evolved "Official" Strategy Guide Unboxing Video

     Disagree with my assessment of Halo: Combat Evolved?  Have something you want to add?  Please leave your comments below.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Walking Dead Game

     Growing up I remember watching and enjoying many of the popular zombie movies.  My parents did not have too many rules for me as a kid when it came to violent shows.  I seem to have turned out alright.  No murderous rampages yet.  I probably should not joke about that but I think you probably get my point.  The funny thing is, I don't let my own children watch violent shows.  Then again, they are both girls and get scared very easily.

     Not long ago I was watching The Walking Dead television series after the kids had gone to bed.  Now if you have ever watched the show you know that there is not a ton of gore every single episode.  Well, I was watching the first season and I believe it may have been one of the later episodes where the camp outside of Atlanta is over run by walkers.  My daughter woke up and came into the living room at the perfect time to catch the start of the attack.  The gore in that scene was pretty intense and the look on her face before I could hit the stop button made me feel like the worst parent in the world.  Hopefully she has forgotten about that.  Anyway, to the point.

     I recently finished season two on Netflix.  I admit I have not read any of the comics.  Am I missing out?  Given that I will be waiting a while for season three (I cut cable television and stream everything to save money) I decided to pick up The Walking Dead Game on Xbox 360.  The game is just 400 points per episode and as I understand it there will be five episodes.  This game is produced and developed by Telltale Games; the same company that produced and developed the Lego series video games.

     I have always been an adventure game fan.  Back on the PC I remember Space Quest, King's Quest and all the other Sierra adventure games.  A friend got me into the Monkey Island series when I was in college.  The Walking Dead game definitely falls into the adventure game category.  You interact with objects in the game world to solve puzzles and advance the story line.  Combat is usually a matter of moving your reticule over the enemy and pressing the appropriate button in the allotted amount of time.

     The game claims to promote choice and while I am very early on in my play through that definitely appears to be the case.  Choices you make seem to change the way the story plays out.  Almost as if it were a choose your own adventure.  Does anyone else remember those books?  If you choose to do this turn to page 101.  Anyway, I will update again as I explore more of this game.  Don't worry, I won't spoil anything.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Am I alone?

     I have always had some issues when it comes to being something of a perfectionist.  I get it from my father.  But sometimes, this can turn into an obsession.  Let me provide some background.

     I have been playing games most of my life.  At an early age my family bought an Atari 2600 and thus began my passion for video games.  Some of my early favorites were of course Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Circus Atari.  I remember my parents loving it when the little Circus Atari guy would go splat after missing the seesaw.

     After the Atari 2600 I remember I was able to get an NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and this probably lead to my obsession.  It started with Super Mario Bros.  I remember the first time that I found a hidden block and that was the exact moment it started.  As a perfectionist, it really bothered me because I could not see everything.  How could I be sure I got everything if some of the stuff was hidden?  Now I found myself spending time searching for stuff that may or may not be there.  I should probably also clarify that I view using strategy guides as cheating.  So, I had to find everything myself.  Now this may sound like I would hate gaming because it would turn into work.  I still enjoyed the experience though because finding hidden items or collecting everything was a challenge.

     I had a lot of consoles, pretty much one every generation after that and mostly all Nintendo.  I never really got into any of the other consoles but there was a particular time when I changed course and picked up the original Xbox.  I had the GameCube as well from that generation but I will discuss the reasons that led me to Xbox in a different post.

     Around this time I began relying on video game reviews to determine which games I should be buying and playing.  My philosophy is simple.  When you have to find everything you should probably only play the very best games given the time investment.  This led me to Halo: Combat Evolved.  I searched every nook and cranny of that game and beat it on every difficulty level.  I enjoy playing a game on every difficulty level because I am intrigued by what the developers do to make the game harder.  This was also rewarded in the early Halo games with different dialogue that would occur based on the difficulty you were playing.  At any rate, I beat Halo to my satisfaction but this took a long time.

     It was around this time that I started using for my review scores because I liked that they averaged all major reviews and gave the games a score based on the aggregate scores.  The next game on my list was GTA: Double Pack (GTA 3 and Vice City).  These two Grand Theft Auto titles really did take me forever to beat to my standards.  As anyone who has played the games know, these games are as complex as it gets.  To further complicate the matter I decided that I had to achieve the highest possible rank in both games.  This required a certain score in Vice City that was extremely time consuming to acquire.

     The next game is Halo 2.  I am sorry to say I am still playing this game.  Sorry only because I have been chipping away at it forever.  This is a great game.  I am currently working on the last level on heroic difficulty.  One of my friends states that I will not be able to beat Halo 2 on legendary difficulty to my standards as when I play the game I must clear every level of bad guys.  Perhaps he is right, or perhaps I will find a way.  I just like finding stuff without cheating.  I do not have lots of time to game anymore which is why I am still working on Halo 2.  When I do play though, I like to take it seriously.  Is anyone else in the world as obsessive about playing their games?  Let me know if it's just me and if I need to get some help in the comments section below.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Windows 7 Themes and Gadgets

     Windows 7 has an easy to use interface for setting and changing desktop themes.  In addition to themes, users also have the ability to enable useful gadgets that provide various information.  Let us examine how to use these features built into Windows 7.

     To begin, we need to minimize all open windows so that we can see the desktop.  I have already touched on this subject in one of my previous posts.  You can find that information here if you need to review.  Now that we are viewing the desktop move the mouse pointer to an empty area of the desktop (in other words not hovering over any icons) and click the right mouse button.  This will open a menu where users can select from a set of options.  From this menu, left click on "Gadgets" to add gadgets to your desktop or left click on "Personalize" to change the desktop theme.  These two items are discussed in further detail below.


     Selecting "Personalize" from the menu takes you to a screen that allows you to choose from a set of default themes.  There are Aero themes (provided that your computer has sufficient processing power and memory) and Basic themes to choose from here.  You can see which theme is currently applied and if you choose you can select a different theme from among the default Windows 7 themes.  To change your theme simply left click on the theme that you wish to apply.

     Users can also mix the images from one theme with the sound file from another thus creating a custom theme.  To do this, begin by left clicking on the theme that has the images that are desired.  This will apply the theme.  Next, left click on Sounds in the lower area of the personalization window.  This will open a new window where the user can left click on the drop down menu below Sound Scheme and choose the desired sound file.  Once the user left clicks OK after choosing the sound file a new "Unsaved Theme" will appear under My Themes in the personalization window.  To save this theme simply left click Save theme and enter a name for the theme in the next window.  Once the theme has been named left click OK.  You have now created and saved a custom theme.

     There are also more free themes available online.  These can be found by left clicking on "Get more themes online" in the personalization window.  This option opens a web browser and takes you to a Microsoft website where you can choose new themes to add to your computer.  Choose a new theme from the website by left clicking on the download option under the theme.  Depending on which browser is being used your options may vary but Internet Explorer will bring up a bar at the bottom of the page with an option to Open, Save, or Cancel.  Choosing Open will download the theme and automatically apply it for you.

     To see a demonstration of the topics discussed above please watch the tutorial video below.


     Selecting "Gadgets" from the menu takes us to a screen that allows us to choose from a variety of Microsoft gadgets.  Simply double left click on the gadget you would like to enable and it will show up on your desktop.  Once you have a gadget on your desktop if you hover the mouse pointer over the gadget this brings up a small menu to the right of the gadget.

     Here you can click X to close the gadget and remove it from your desktop.  Some gadgets also have an arrow button that allow you to toggle between preset sizes for the gadget.  There is also an option that looks like a grouping of dots that allows you to drag the icon around the screen (appropriately named Drag Gadget) thus allowing you to choose where you would like it to reside on your desktop.  By left clicking and holding on the drag gadget button you are then able to move the gadget to another area.  Release the left mouse button to stop dragging it.  You may notice while dragging a gadget that it will snap to any side of the screen if the gadget gets close to the edge.  Finally, some of the gadgets have an options button that allows you to customize the information that you would like the gadget to display.

     To see a demonstration of the topics discussed above please watch the tutorial video below.

      Please leave a comment with your questions or suggestions.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Windows 7 Shake, Show Desktop, Minimize All

     Sometimes when working with multiple programs it is beneficial to be able to quickly get back to the desktop.  There are several ways to do this.  In this post we will examine the various ways to accomplish this and the different uses of each.


     1.  Lets start with Windows Shake.  This is a feature built into Windows 7 that allows you to shake the window you want to keep active but minimize everything behind it.  This could be useful if you want to keep one window open but pull up something else from your desktop.  Basically it is as simple as left click and holding on the top bar of the window you wish to keep active and then shaking it back and forth.  This will minimize all of the open windows except for the one that was shook.  The process can be repeated to restore all of the minimized windows back onto the screen.  Please see the tutorial video below for a demonstration of how to use this feature.

Windows 7: Shake Video

Show Desktop

     2.  Windows 7 also has a button by the clock that lets you either peek at the desktop (by hovering the mouse pointer over it) or minimize all open programs and fully display the desktop by left clicking on the button.  The minimize all open programs can be reversed or undone simply by left clicking on the show desktop button a second time.  The peek feature could be handy if you are simply verifying a file is on the desktop but you don't want to minimize what you are currently working on.  The tutorial video below demonstrates how to use this feature.

Windows 7: Show Desktop Button Video

Minimize All

     3.  Another way to minimize all open applications is simply a keyboard shortcut.  Windows has employed these shortcuts for a long time and they are probably the fastest way to accomplish a task.  Some of the most useful keyboard shortcuts employ the Windows key.  The Windows key is typically located on the left side of the keyboard between the Ctrl key and the Alt key.  Some keyboards may also have another Windows key on the right side of the keyboard in the same general area.  The Windows key is the one that has the Microsoft Windows logo on it.  The keyboard shortcut for minimizing all open programs is Windows key + M.  This simply minimizes them down to the task bar.  It does not close any programs.  The minimize all is handy for those times when you need start a new program and want everything else that you were using to wait on the task bar until you are ready to use them again.

     Please leave a comment with your questions or suggestions.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

NCAA Football 13 Recruiting Guide Part 1

Part 1: Filling the preseason recruiting board

     The most important step in any successful recruiting program is selecting the right prospects.  The following guide is a synopsis of how I do things.  I play in an online dynasty and I tend to end up at or very near the top of the recruiting rankings every year so I know that this system works.

     The first task is to fill your recruiting board.  Nothing is more important than addressing your team needs on a year to year basis.  You do not want to end up starting a walk on after all.  I review team needs and always begin there.  So, lets say hypothetically you need 1 WR, 2 MLB, and 1 K.  I then use the search and add feature to select the position WR and require that their interest toward my school be at least in the top 10.  I do not bother trying to recruit players outside a top 10 interest because I think it is a waste of time.  You may land someone eventually but the effort required I believe is better spent elsewhere.  The only exception to this rule is when you have no one interested in your school at that position.  This seems to happen most frequently with the FB position, but your mileage may vary.

     Once you have searched for your WR, I always select the very best WR according to the rankings that have a top 10 interest.  I do this even if there is a guy below with a higher interest level.  This is probably just my retentive tendencies but I want to get the best guy that is interested.  I usually only do a 1 to 1 ration on team needs.  If I need a WR, then I only target one WR at the outset.  This may not hold true later after I have addressed team needs and begin to flesh out the rest of my recruit board but for starters, that is what I do.  Now, what about as I alluded to earlier if you do not have a WR with top 10 interest.  Then I drop the top 10 requirement from the search and just select the best WR in the country.  If you have to dream, dream big.  Having said this, if you do want to improve your chances somewhat of landing a player that does not have a top 10 interest in your school you could restrict your search to pipeline states and select the best player from that list.  Pipeline players always give you a better return on your recruiting time.  Repeat this process until all of your team needs have been addressed.  In the previous example, 1 WR, 2 MLB, and 1 K, this would mean that my board should have 4 players on it.  They would be 1 WR, 2 MLB and 1 K.  Great, we are ready to move on.

     The next step is to fill the remaining slots of our recruiting board.  If we continue to use the above example then this would mean that we would need to target an additional 31 players.  My system from here is very difficult (note sarcasm).  I again go into search and this time select any position with a top 10 interest.  From here I just go on down the list ordered by ranking and add every single player.  The only time I have deviated from this in the past is if I end up targeting 10 or so WR (I have had this happen) in which case I would simply begin to ignore WR but continue adding other positions while moving down the list in ranking order.  Once your recruiting board is full, you are done with part 1 of this recruiting guide.  Please look for part 2 where we will deal with recruiting board organization and scouting.

     Included below is a video I made demonstrating some of the basic recruiting concepts discussed above.  I used a computer and EA Sports NCAA Football 13 Dynasty website to make this video.

NCAA Football 13 Recruiting Guide Part 1 Video

     Please leave a comment with your questions or suggestions.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Windows 7 Snap

     Windows 7 includes many useful new features and improvements to previous Windows products.  One such improvement is the "snap" feature.

     Essentially this allows users to move a program or application to one side of the screen and have it snap to exactly that half of the screen.  The user could then snap another program or application to the other half of the screen and in essence mimic having a dual screen display.

     The benefits to using the snap feature are exactly the same benefits one would get from having multiple monitors or displays.  You can see two programs or applications at the exact same time without having to minimize one to see the other.  A simple example may be reviewing information from one application and using that information to input data into a different application.  The process is simplified and sped up greatly when you eliminate the need to constantly minimize or switch between programs or applications.

     To utilize the snap feature we will assume that the user is running a program or application full screen.  The first step is click the middle button in the upper right corner, the one between the - and the X.  This is called restore down.  Conversely it will be called maximize if the program or application is not running full screen.  Once we have clicked the middle button we can then click and hold the left mouse button on the top bar of the program or application and drag it around.  Drag it towards whichever of side of the screen that you want it to snap to.  Once the mouse pointer contacts the edge of the screen you will see a silhouette form on exactly that half of the screen.  Release the mouse button and the program or application will snap to that half of the screen.  Repeat the process to snap something else to the other side of screen.

     I have created a small video tutorial that demonstrates the Windows 7 Snap feature so if you are having trouble visualizing any of the descriptions I have provided above the video should help.  This feature is probably going to work best on a 19 inch or larger wide screen display.  Anything smaller and the snapped programs or applications will be difficult to read.

Windows 7: Snap Video

     Please leave a comment with your questions or suggestions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mass Effect 3 = Mass XP

     Last night I was playing Mass Effect 3 and enjoying it.  I will admit that I have not gotten too far in the game yet.  Work, family and other games have taken up more of my time.  I am ashamed to admit that I was still only level 3 at the time.

      It was during this play session that I noticed something that I find interesting, perhaps a trend in gaming these days.  While in the very early levels of the game I noticed I received 5XP for picking up a med pack.  Then, later on in the level I read a data pad and low and behold I gained another odd amount of experience.  Something to the tune of 144XP if memory serves.

     The funny part at least to me was that this was enough to level me up.  It struck me, you really don't even have to fight things or do anything that requires skill to gain XP and levels in games anymore.

     I probably show my age when I say that I remember back in the good old days when you had to actually fight to earn XP.  But then I was thinking, were those really the good old days?  When you think about how far games and gaming systems have come nowadays, the power they have now for immersion is so much greater than what it used to be.  If you go back to the Atari 2600 days one of my favorite games of the time was Adventure.  Great game, but you were a square.  No joke, a square!  Talk about having to use your imagination!

     Games like the Elder Scrolls series make such good use of the world and your actions that when you sneak around, you get better at it.  When you use magic, you get better at it.  How cool is that?  So, where am I going with all of this?  I guess my point is, initially I thought it was humorous that I should gain a level from reading a data pad.  But after thinking about it, I will take gaining a level from reading any day over going back to my character being a square!

     What do you think?  Do you long the gaming days of yore or are you completely happy with where gaming is today?  Leave your comments below.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What is a Horpion?

     A horpion is a half horse, half scorpion creature.  It has the body of a horse with both the pincers and the stinger of a scorpion.  The creature is quite fearsome I assure you.  It is incredibly swift like a horse but has the ability grab its foe with its pincers while delivering a lethal sting.

     Credit for the concept of the horpion has to go to my buddy Jim.  He created it upon hearing that an entity that uses a horse as their mascot often discovered scorpions at their facility.  He remarked, "they should change their mascot to a horpion".

     I borrowed his concept because it would be the perfect video game nemesis or even boss.  How cool would be it encounter such a creature in a game like Skyrim?  Scorpions make cool enemies but they are usually slow.  A horpion though, you would have your hands full.  Or, what if you could tame one like in Red Dead Redemption and make them your mount?  Good stuff.

     Anyway you slice it, a horpion fits into gaming about as well as anything else.  Now that you know what a horpion is and why I chose to use it as my blog name, what do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Xbox 360 Live DLC (Downloadable Content) Tip

     Video game consoles are taking over more and more as the go to device when it comes to watching TV, sports, streaming media, and of course playing games.  Because of this, more and more people that I talk to today have more than one console in their house.  For those of you who have multiple Xbox 360s in your home, this tip is for you.

     Xbox Live ties the purchases that you make on their service to two things.
  1. The original console that the content was purchased on.
  2. The original Xbox Live account that purchased the content.
     So what does this mean?  Well, it means that if you have a house full of gamers you will have problems if you do not know about this tip.  Everybody knows that when you buy a disc based game you can use it anywhere.  You can take that disc and throw it in another console and someone else can use it with no problems.  Well, what about when you download that new Xbox Arcade game or map pack off of Xbox Live and want to use it on a different console and with a different account?  I have you covered but be aware that this does require a minimum of two Xbox controllers and the secondary Xbox has to be connected to the Internet.

    First let me say that if you are using the original console that downloaded the content you are pretty much set.  Any account on that console can use the content and it will be the full version in the case of arcade games or it will show up if it is a piece of DLC for a disc based game.  The issue we are concerned with is how do I use the content on a different console with a different account.  The legitimate uses for this might be a child or sibling who wants to play the game on their console and with their account.

     The first thing that needs to be done is the Xbox Live account that purchased the content (we will call this account the primary account) needs to download the DLC again on the second console.  You will not be charged again for this content if you have already purchased it once.  Then sign out of the primary account.

     From here you would sign in the secondary account on controller 1.  It really does not matter whether the secondary account is an Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Live Silver, or just an offline account.  Then, sign into controller 2 with the primary account.  It is important to mention again that the secondary Xbox does need to connect to the Internet as the primary account needs to be signed into Xbox Live for this to work.  Once the primary account is signed into Xbox Live all content on the secondary console that the primary purchased will be available to any account.  Furthermore, the primary account does not need to play any of the games.  They can leave the room and go do something else.  They just need to leave themselves signed in.  The secondary account is free to load up whatever game and play as they wish.  The primary account will not earn gamer score nor will their save files be impacted by the secondary accounts game play.  I have also made a video discussing this topic and have linked to it below.

Xbox 360 Live DLC Tip Video

     Please leave a comment with your questions or suggestions.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Problem Steps Recorder in Windows 7

     A lot of people are probably unaware of this feature in Windows 7.  Essentially this allows you to record what you are doing on your computer and output your actions to a file.  There could be many uses for this feature.  Listed are but a few.
  1. You could log the exact steps taken before an error of some kind occurs.  The person reviewing the file can then see all the steps plus the error screen itself.
  2. You could create some basic training instructions since the recorder will document everything that you do on the screen.
     To start PSR (Problem Steps Recorder) simply click on the start button and in the search dialogue box type psr and hit enter.  It really is that simple.  This will open a bar that looks like this.

     Click "Start Record" and you are on your way.  This does not create a literal video recording but rather a document containing screenshots of  mouse clicks as well as descriptions of actions taken. This will keep logging your actions until you click "Stop Record".  At this point a Save As screen will pop up which will give you the opportunity to choose where you want to save the file in addition to allowing you to name the file.  I usually save these to my desktop and give them a name that describes what I just recorded.  This will save a zipped file to the location that you specify.  When you open the zipped file you can see screenshots as well as descriptions of what action was taken in each screenshot.  You could then attach the file to an email if you wish to have someone review your steps either for troubleshooting or training as mentioned above.  Please check out my small video tutorial on PSR below.

Windows 7: Problem Steps Recorder Video

     Please leave a comment with your questions or suggestions.

NCAA Football 13 BCS National Champions

     I finally did it!  I took Stanford to the BCS National Championship and won!  Let me provide some context to this story.

     I have been playing NCAA Football 13's online dynasty mode with a good buddy of mine.  He had been using the Oklahoma State Cowboys and I had been using Stanford.  In the 2012 season he stormed into the BCS National Championship with an undefeated record.  I on the other hand had lost a heartbreaking game to my bitter rival Notre Dame but still managed a respectable 3rd place in the BCS voting.

     It was the Conference Championship where things got interesting.  I was ranked 3rd in the BCS while Utah was ranked 2nd.  This created the perfect match up for me to obtain a BCS Championship berth as Utah would play Stanford for the PAC 12 Championship.  It was a thrilling game and the pressure was really on as losing meant I would not go to the National Championship and Utah would.  I felt it was a safe bet that if I beat Utah that Stanford would move up to 2nd in the polls and be in the big game.  I managed to beat Utah and was set to play my buddy for the all the marbles.

     The time for the game had finally come.  The game was a back and forth affair, very evenly matched.  Stanford had an unfortunate knack for throwing the defense the ball however and this ended up being the nail in the coffin.  Oklahoma State Cowboys ran out the clock to seal their 2012 National Championship.

     This takes us to the 2013 season where both of us put together undefeated regular seasons.  He was ranked 1st in the polls and I was again ranked 2nd going into the Conference Championship week.  This time Stanford was to go up against the formidable USC Trojans.  What a game, I won 10-7 in a game that was all about the defenses.  Stanford had thrown 4 interceptions in the game and still managed to win.  Low and behold when we advanced to the next week who moved into 1st place in the polls?  Stanford!

     So, heading into the 2013 BCS National Championship Stanford was #1 and Oklahoma State was #2.  This time around the contest was much different.  I have a certain system that I use.  Every year it is different and this particular year it was that I blitz every play.  This is usually a feast or famine way to play the game.  If you get to the QB or RB early things are great.  When you don' is usually bad.  My buddy played well but my defense had gotten to him early and often.  He made some adjustments in the second half but he had a couple of key turnovers that really cost him the game and Stanford took home the Championship.

     Because I had accomplished everything that I wanted with Stanford and my contract was up I set out to find a new team.  I was hoping to sign on with the Arizona State Sun Devils, Tulsa Golden Hurricanes, or the Idaho Vandals.  None of these teams had any positions open but you only find this out by declining jobs and then some new ones reveal themselves.  I passed on many, many head coaching jobs, including the Arizona Wildcats.  It became clear after some time that all of the head coaching gigs were taken and now I would settling for either an Offensive or Defensive Coordinator.  I waited until the very end hoping something would be available at my desired schools, but alas, I had to sign with the very last team to offer me a job.  I am now the Offensive Coordinator for the FIU Golden Panthers.  They actually had a decent season in 2013, but their talent pool decreased greatly with the last graduating class.  I have my work cut out for me but also look forward to the challenge.  Can I take FIU to the top?  Stay tuned.