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new super mario bros wii review

Posted on : 11-20-2009 | By : Andy | In : fun, pop culture

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You might have read the reviews, you’ve probably seen the commercials. They’re all true: New Super Mario Bros Wii is one of the best Wii games ever made, and absolutely superb for multiplayer. Here’s why:

The graphics are pretty, the controls work like they’re intended to–it’s a very polished game. The game goes out of its way to make sure newbs aren’t totally lost or frustrated, and it’s challenging and deep enough to satisfy any gamer who ever enjoyed a Super Mario Bros game on any system. Other than being the most fun Mario title to date (and the truest evolution of Super Mario Bros for the 21st century), this true-to-its-roots 2D scroller has a few features to keep the non-hardcore-gamer from pulling their hair out.

  • multi-player capability is guaranteed hilarity. most fun i’ve had in a LONG time playing a video game, even with people who are very bad at the game. why? if you’re about to die, or can’t get past a particularly difficult jumping sequence, you can put yourself in a “bubble” and safely float forward to join your more skilled friends. no more crying that you can’t make it past that part–as long as there’s at least one person alive and not in a bubble, you’re ok. if everyone “bubbles” or dies at the same time, you’ve got to start over. this gets to be quite funny when you all start bubbling and the last guy panics and bubbles, or jumps off a cliff!
  • throwing people and jumping off their heads can lead to some very, very fun and competitive gameplay, or if properly done, teamwork doing these same things can make some difficult unlocks or sequences much easier.
  • if you die too many times on multiplayer, you can watch a video to show you how to do the level.
  • as you earn large coins, you can spend them to watch videos that show you how to find secret goals and powerups. then you don’t feel like you cheated when you search the internet for the same info, because you earned it!
  • as you play through the game, you don’t have to always use the same number of players. that is, if you beat 4 worlds alone and save the game, the next time you turn on the game you can pick up where you left off with 1, 2, 3, or even 4 people! if you’ve cooperatively beat most of the game with a friend, you can come back and earn all the extra stuff you missed alone later.
  • Penguin suit and propeller hats rock

this game is a total win. you simply MUST buy it.

Quality shared webhosting

Posted on : 11-13-2009 | By : Andy | In : tech

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It might seem like an oxymoron, but it’s not! I’ve been hosting this site and a client’s websites at webhostingbuzz.com since 2005, and I’ve got to say I’m glad I stumbled upon their site 4 years ago.

I like a number of things about WHB, but at the top of the list are reasonable pricing, great uptime, and a ton of features. With cPanel and about every other services option out there, how can you go wrong?

If you’re only looking for a wordpress host, or interested in a VPS or even a dedicated server, I recommend you check out webhostingbuzz!

Triple monitors on ATI integrated graphics and nVidia discrete graphics card

Posted on : 11-10-2009 | By : Andy | In : tech

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I recently did a lot of googling about how to use my ATI Radeon HD 3300 integrated graphics card at the same time as my nVidia 8600 GTS discrete graphics card at the same time. The problem is, my motherboard (the BioStar TA790GX 128M) supports integrated + discrete card usage…only with ATI cards. I don’t have an ATI graphics card, and didn’t want to buy one.

This hasn’t been a problem from my two-monitor setup because the 8600GTS easily powers two monitors, but I recently ordered an upgraded monitor (24″ Dell S2409W), and I didn’t want to have to ditch my old 17″ LCD. Lots of googling, and the result is all the same: the TA790GX turns off the onboard graphics card automatically if an nVidia card is detected.

Well, my motherboard does support crossfire with 2 PCI-express slots, so I got to wondering. What if I put my graphics card not in the primary slot, but in the secondary slot? Sure, it will only run at x8 speed, but it’s already PCI-express 2.0, and the lower bandwidth is not likely to hurt my middle-of-the-road graphics card anyways.

Swap it out. Boot it up. Windows 7 recognizes TWO graphics cards from different manufacturers, automatically installs the drivers for the ATI card, and asks to reboot. Reboot.

Viola! It’s done! Hybrid graphics on an ATI motherboard with an nVidia graphics card! Hope someone finds this to be helpful.

Note: apparently, Vista will not work with this. XP may, but I’m not sure. Windows 7 definitely does. I tell you, I’m loving Windows 7!

Rechargeable or Alkaline Batteries?

Posted on : 11-03-2009 | By : Andy | In : random, tech

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I’m trying to find out what the performance specs on Sam’s Club Member’s Mark batteries is–the best I’ve got so far is some hearsay from a forum post about them being made by Duracell.

BUT, in my search I found a post discussing rechargables vs. alkalines, claiming that 1 AA could save you up to $500. The post is interesting, but bears some observations.

  1. Energizers might cost you $1/each in the grocery store, but a 48 pack of AA batteries is $10 at Sam’s (confirmed by me today) — that’s about $0.21/battery, and means your max savings is down to about $100/battery
  2. At $3 vs. $0.21, you’re not saving any money until you recharge the 15th time: saving $100 is only going to happen if you actually recharge that single AA battery 500 times.
  3. Rechargeable batteries eventually lose capacity. I’m going to assume that they’re relatively useless after three years of use. (Just look at your cellphone battery) You COULD go on using them, and you might, but they’re not going to last long enough to be worth your while.
  4. What are you going to do while your batteries are recharging? You’re still going to end up sticking alkalines in your devices every once in a while to tide you over, whether that be for 1/2 hour or 14 hours, depending on your charger–so, your savings will be less than indicated.

OK, so what does that look like then?

  1. Remote control:
    • Average time to change batteries? Maybe twice a year.
    • Time to savings: 7 years
    • Capacity of rechargable batteries after 7 years (if they even work after 7 years)? 0
    • Savings: $0
  2. Battery-hogging Wireless Mouse (2xAA):
    • Average time to change batteries? Once a week
    • Time to savings: 4 months
    • Useful battery life: 3 years (150 actual charge cycles)
    • Savings (life of 1 set of 2 rechargeables): $57
  3. Clock (1xAA):
    • Average time to change batteries? Maybe once a year.
    • Time to savings: 14 years
    • Capacity of rechargable batteries after 7 years? 0
    • Savings: $-1.53
  4. Wii Controller (2xAA):
    • Average replacement? (@25 hrs of gameplay = between 3 – 30 days)
    • Time to savings: 42 – 196 days
    • Useful battery life: 3 years (between 36 – 365 charges)
    • Savings: $15 – $150

Bottom line: some things are worth using rechargeables for. Some things aren’t. $500 in savings per battery is a bit sensationalistic though–it’s more likely you’ll see $50-100 in savings over 3-5 years per battery if you use them consistently and vigorously: and that assumes that the rechargeables last as long as the Alkalines do, which may or may not be true depending on usage.

It’s also interesting to note that some things (like Wii Controllers) may be worth using both for. Let’s say you have kids who play 24/7 with two controllers, but you have two controllers for the parents or friends to use, which get used maybe 4 hours a week. It’s going to take you 2 years of use to justify buying rechargeables for the mostly-unused controllers, assuming they get consistent weekly usage. If they’re not going to get that kind of use for more than 2 years, use alkalines for the rarely-used devices, and stick rechargeables in the others.

Thanks to the Always Frugal lady though for bringing it up again! Even at dirt-cheap $10 for 48 AA’s at Sam’s, I probably should invest in a rechargeable system for two Wii controllers. Just don’t go counting $100-500 in savings per battery as you pick up rechargeables for every electronic device in your household!