King of the Castle!

Date Sat, October 25 2008

I was browsing Blogging Girl when I saw Jenn posted an awesome coupon for $1.99 domans at GoDaddy (use code 199TEST). Needless to say, I had to use it. What does this mean? Reviews By Cole will soon be on its own domain!

For just 8 low, low payments of $119.99..

Date Fri, October 24 2008

As I shop, I sort of make a mental checklist of things I can review for the site. On my mind now is our George Foreman grill, Phantom’s new toy Da Bird as well as a litter box mat, face wash and Frizz Eaze Hair Serum. I’ll probably even put up a review of Lego Batman since I have been playing it so much. -gasp!- I definitely want to do some reviews as well for my host: Neureal, my cell phone provider: T-Mobile and my internet/phone/cable service: Time Warner.

After a while, I start to forget things on my list but I know I forgot them so it makes me frustrated. I think I need one of those digital memo recorder things that you always get FREE if you call now to buy something else that is equally worthless from a late night TV commercial.

I guess not having TV for so long caused me to forget about commercials and now I get quite sick of them. Every time I see a certain car commercial or hear the insurance ad of a doctor recommends a product like Alli, I tend to sort of scoff or zone out or even grumble at the commercials. If only I have Tivo (ha! if only my cable didn’t suck so bad).

Odor Be Gone

Date Tue, October 21 2008

Our newest addition, a crazy with so-called “crazy eyes” meant some new purchases, as well. Since I haven’t owned a cat in years and have never owned one by myself, I solicited some advice about products and divided my cat supply shopping into items which I preferred to spend more money on and items which price made little difference (that is, products which I could find cheaper). I headed to Petsmart for the former and Wal-mart for the latter.

My Wal-mart trip included standards items like a litter box and scoop as well as the litter itself. I opted to go with Arm and Hammer Odor Alert because it has a friendly price and was a trusted name.

It seemed interesting with crystal which turn colour when wet to alert you to the clumps, hence the name: Odor Alert. I haven’t been knocked off my feet by this “feature,” yet. Although the crystals are easy to identify, they seem to be easily triggered. As we keep the litter box in the bathroom, near the shower, where moisture runs rampant, I think the crystals tend to change colour because of that. In retrospect, I should have thought about that when buying Arm and Hammer Odor Alert cat litter. But so should they when making it. Bathrooms are a popular place for litter boxes.

My other beef with the colour changing crystals in this cat litter is that sometimes they don’t alert you to clumps. Sometimes they are wet but don’t clump. I think that this cat litter clumps decently so it’s just an issue of the crystals turning colour prematurely. Needless to say, I’ve never actually used the blue crystals to my advantage when scooping out the litter.

Many people seem to be offended by the scent of this cat litter. I cannot say the Odor Alert is odorless but it doesn’t phase me. It simply smells a little fruity or flowery like many cat litters and when mixed with the scent of cat matter, it isn’t wonderful but it won’t kill me either. You can tell when a cat has used the potty because it ‘increases’ the scent. In the future, I may try and odorless litter instead.

I am happy to say that my kitty had no adverse reaction to Odor Alert cat litter by Arm and Hammer. We did buy a litter box mat because my cat does track some of the litter into the bathroom and, when wet, it sort of melts into the floor and takes a lot of scrubbing to get off.

Overall, this is a decent cat litter and I’m glad I purchased it at Wal-mart rather than Petsmart where it was much more expensive. I would probably look for something higher quality in the future, though.

Soft as.. Well, Cashmere

Date Sun, October 19 2008

So we recently ran out of soap in the bathroom which is something that happens (otherwise the soap industry would be sad) and happens much quicker than with hand soap kept at the kitchen sink. We’ve been using the same generic but nice smelling soap since we moved in and I decided it was time for a change, while browsing the soap aisle.

I scanned the products and saw what looked simply like a little piece of heaven in a bottle. Softsoap has a line of products called Skin Essentials which offers hand and body soaps. I chose the Pure Cashmere soap mostly because it smelled wonderfully, light and fresh. Of course, I thought that “cashmere extract” sounded pretty awesome, too. I must admit, I am a bit fan of foaming soaps so that helped as well.

I’ve been really surprised at the Pure Cashmere moisturizing hand soap from Softsoap. It still smells great. What is amazing is how luxurious the soap feels on your hands when you are washing. If that wasn’t impressive enough, your skin does feel softer after using so I feel confident in the Softsoap’s claim that this is a softening soap.

Although I’ve only been using it a short time, it will be interesting to see whether or not Softsoap Skin Essentials Pure Cashmere permanently improves my skin.


Date Thu, October 16 2008

Ryan and I recently saw the movie Blindness in theatres and while I didn’t not like the movie, I can’t quite syathat I liked it either. Let me start with the premise.

A man in Anytown, USA mysteriously goes blind while driving his car and while initially dismissed as a psychological case by a doctor, others soon become blind as well and an epidemic begins. The government deals with this, incorrectly might I say, as usually by sending the infected persons off in a bus to an old institution. Because no one wants to catch the blindness and there is no solution as to why people are infected, the complex is guarding by the military.

If that doesn’t sound like a pleasant situation, things go from bad to worse. The numbers increase by the busload and what started with a tentative peace between the residents soon turns into an abusive situation with Ward 3 turning into “prison bullies” and taking over control of the food.

Amidst this mess are a doctor and his wife, played by Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore. The doctor is the only one who knows that his wife is not blind and she takes care of him as well as others in their ward.

As food, clean facilities and needed items such as clothing dwindle, tension elevates until Ward 3, led by a greasy Mexican (played by Gael García Bernal) whom I think was previously a criminal is demanding the women for food.

I’ll leave the spoilers to the rest of the internet.

I was a bit disappointed for this movie because I think I was in the wrong mindset. To me, the trailers billed this as more of an action packed movie. Perhaps I would have known better if I were familiar with the source: a novel. However, this movie was more a psychological and intellectual view at the human condition and I think I may have enjoyed it better had I intended to see a movie of that type.

Julianne Moore is a veteran and did well. Mark Ruffalo is not as well known and tends to play the “nice guy” character in chick flicks. I think this role offers more depth and he takes it on well. We also come to know “The Woman With Dark Glasses” who is a prostitute but generally kind hearted, a little boy and an older black gentleman played by Danny Glover. Although most of the “bad guys” seem to be lesser known characters, they are loved by their fans, especially Gael García Bernal who plays a despicable character.

As we watched human behaviours, faults and virtues that make up the human experience, I became increasingly more uncomfortable. This is not a feel good movie.

The movie isn’t exactly slow but I find the way events progress to be generally frustrating. Although there is a climax, it seems to be almost something happening in the background while the viewer waits for the real story to being.

At the end, the audience still doesn’t know what caused the blindness and this may be frustrating to some. Another frustrating point is that this movie is literally dark to the point of being difficult to see. While I understand the motivation to play with light and darkness in a movie about blindness, I think that it wasn’t done as well as the producers may have thought.

Overall, I probably wouldn’t watch this movie again but I might give the book a go.

PayU2Blog Update

Date Mon, October 13 2008

A while ago, I vented my frustrations about PayU2Blog and although my issues seem to have been ‘resolved’ I am still unsatisfied with their customer service. Still, I will continue to use them as long as they pay but not give a damn if sometihng should happen.

The resolution was not a happy one. I simply unpacked my computer and was able to log in with my old password which was saved in Firefox. I also had access to the e-mail with the password in it which was saved on my computer.

Fortunately, PayU2Blog seems to have taken my advice because there is now a form of sorts to reset your password.

The program had continued running while I was gone and I was able to pick right back up where I left off desipte the fact that I had missed over a month’s worth of jobs. I was not penalized in anyway.

Unfortunately, I never found any human contact and the experience still has me feeling like PU2B doesn’t care about its workers or customers. This does not give me much faith in the company. Alas, what can I do?

And the Gold Goes To..

Date Fri, October 10 2008

Sadly, I don’t even know who placed first overall in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Luckily, I’ve got a copy of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games to experience the excitement all over again for myself.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (MS@OG from here on out) has many events in several sport types including athletics, aquatics, gymnastics, archery, table tennis, fencing, shooting and cycling. There are also “Dream Events” which are all locked at the beginning of the game which put fantastic spins on traditional events. The game encompasses most of the Olympic disciplines and you will see familiar events such as the long jump, table tennis and basketball. Although some of the events are a little less typical, they are all Olympic events.

And what fun is it to play these events as one of your favourite video game heroes or his friends. Sonic and Mario bring along their pals so you can kick butt as Luigi or Tails, Dr Eggman or Bowser, Princess Peach or Amy. In all, there are 16 characters divided by type (power, all-around, speed and skill) to choose from and everyone will have his favourite.

There are 3 standards modes of playing for single player in MS@OG: single match, circuit and mission. As the name implies, you can choose any single match in any sport with any character in “single match.” Most events consist of 3 rounds and your scores are either added or averaged to determine the winner and the top 3 competitors earn a bronze, silver or gold medal.

There are 3 circuit classes – Beginner’s, Advanced and Master’s – each containing 5 circuits made up of several events from different sports. The circuits involve a special opportunity to win called the “Circuit Chance” which will double the points you earn in 1 chosen event. Contestants earn up to 10 points each match which are added to all the match points to determine the winner of the circuit, who earns a trophy.

There is also a “Free Circuit” where you can choose the individual events or have the game select random events.

Each character has 5 missions, not all of which are unlocked to begin with. Completing all 5 regular missions unlocks a 6th final mission which is usually a dream event. Missions require you to complete certain events with certain criteria like within a certain time frame, without being hurt or scored against, with a certain score, with a handicap or before another character.

Gameplay is done mostly with the touch screen and stylus, making good use of the DS features, although a few buttons are used. Many of the events involved running which means rubbing the stylus back and forth quickly; this can soon tire your arm. There are some unique elements particular to the DS, such as making sound to increase your score. During some events, like the long jump, ‘clapping’ (I tap the mic with my stylus) into the microphone encourages your character to do better. For the hammer throw, making a sound at the right time increases your throw.

You can also expect to trace a lot of shapes (Trampoline, 100M Swim) as well as push certain button combinations (Platform, Table Tennis)

Gameplay can become a bit tedious, especially when it comes to a lot of racing or long races like the 400M race. I also find that the biking uses a lot of button mashing rather than calculated moves. It’s definitely a good idea to do a variety of events so that you don’t become bored or exhausted of any one. However, very few events are so tedious; most of them make better use of the controls.

MS@OG also makes good use of the dual screen by generally displaying information on the top screen, allowing the touch screen to be used completely for game viewing or settings/menu selections. In some events, like Table Tennis, the opposite screen is even used to display the character, allowing the view to be even larger.

One thing that I find unique about MS@OG is that it shows the actual World and Olympic records for events and, if you happen to beat those records in game, it tells you and updates them. Your scores can be submitted online through a WiFi connection.

And if you want to play with a friend or more, you can do that, too. MS@OG has Versus Play, like other DS Games. You can create a group with local friends via Download Play or play with others across the world via Wireless Play. There appears to be only a limited version of Download Play regardless of whether the other player has the game which is a bit disappointing. However, unlocking all the events expands the available games.

Of course, all your medals and trophies are stored in your Collection in your records. Here you can see medals by character (for individual events), trophies (earned in circuits), emblems (special accomplishments you unlocked during play such as winning an event without letting your opponent score or completing all of a character’s missions, and points and crowns (earning gold medals in all events for a character).

MS@OG also contains a gallery which lets you play minigames and learn about the history of the Olympics. As you complete the minigames, you earn rewards in the form of songs to play in the Gallery Jukebox.

Although some of the events differ in almost no way from actual Olympic events, MS@OG manages to still bring a unique flavour to their game. The dream events really add something new to the Olympics, taking events to a whole other level bye eliminating the laws of physics, gravity and even reason. ;) Although generally harder than the regular events, they are often more fun as well. They’ve even managed to add a bit of Mario Kart with the dream race, where you can use items to aid you.

Overall, my favourite events are 10m Platform (swimming), Trampoline and Vault (Gymnastics), Table Tennis, Fencing, Dream Long Jump, Dream Fencing and Dream Basketball. All except 10m Platform and Table Tennis require use of the stylus and most of which also use the buttons.

In terms of difficulty, MS@OG does not require much of you, which is why it’s a great game for kids of any age. Although it make take some time to get used to the controls, it’s likely that there will come a time when you are always scoring a medal or trophy.

Overall, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games is a fun game which creatively uses the DS as a system. Although it would be nice if there was a more extensive option to play with your friends besides only Download Play and some of the events are a bit tedious, it offers a lot of variety and lovable characters so that you can compete at the Olympics in your own home and experience the Olympics for yourself.