Sunday, July 28, 2013

Is there a need for Xbox TV?

Xbox One is touted by Microsoft as being able to serve all of your entertainment needs. What is the point of an "Xbox TV" then?

According to writer Danny Sullivan of, there is. He believes that while the Xbox 360 is a capable streaming device, it is overlooked by consumers due to its premium cost in comparison to Roku and Apple TV.

Sullivan concludes by saying that Xbox should "[l]ose the gaming functionality [and] focus on the video (and perhaps music)," and that by doing so Microsoft will be able to gain a foothold into households seeking pure streaming devices. He basically wants Microsoft to create an Xbox version of Apple TV, Roku, or Chromecast; in other words a small hockey puck sized device that generates little to no heat and is dedicated solely to streaming content.

The problem with this is that, in my mind, it severely diminishes the Xbox brand. As seen with the 360 and now the One, Microsoft wants Xbox to be a brand that encompasses every possible form of entertainment you might need in your living room. By creating a stripped down Xbox made only for streaming, you are throwing out everything that Microsoft wants their entertainment console to be: the end all be all option for every home's living room.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fat Head Review

I just watched the dietary documentary Fat Head yesterday and I have to say, it was pretty phenomenal.

Basically, it's sort of a direct response to Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me, and seeks to demonstrate to viewers that the crusade against eating meat and animal fats is entirely fallacious and in actuality is causing the obesity crisis in America.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is the new Nexus 7 worth it?

For owners of the 2012 Nexus 7, this thing will look mighty familiar to you.

Just under a year ago I bought my first tablet, the 16gb Nexus 7. Now, as has become the custom in the world of technology, Google has recently announced my relatively youthful tablet's successor in the Nexus 7-2 (note the space between the numbers, I know it's confusing but this is apparently what most writers have named it).

The question I will look at is this: is it worth it for current Nexus 7 owners to buy the Nexus 7-2?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's not a shooter, it's a camera!

Is that a camera or a shooter? Tech writers, listen up.

I go through a lot of tech news (often through apps like Appy Geek), and as such I read a lot of smartphone reviews. One thing that I have been seeing a lot lately is writers who feel the need to come up with random synonyms when describing a smartphone.

One of the worst examples of these I've seen lately is writers who use the word shooter instead of camera when referring to a smartphone's camera. For example, they'll say something like "the iPhone as an 8 megapixel camera on the back and a forward facing 1.3 megapixel shooter on the front."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Good luck with Dwight, Houston

The city of Houston is likely rejoicing at the fact that they've claimed the rights to Dwight Howard, the so-called best center in the NBA. Is there really anything for them to be excited about though? In my mind, not really.

Watching Dwight all of last year it was evident that he, at his best, is little more than an athletic defender who can finish at the rim with above average effectiveness.

His hands are rock hard, little more than oversized mitts. You could almost see the webs linking his rather useless elongated fingers. He fumbled away more passes from players like Steve freaking Nash and Kobe goddamn Bryant than I can count.

Not only that, but he refuses to play in any sort of offense that doesn't cater to his exact needs. In his arrogance, he spurned a great playmaker like Steve Nash, choosing instead to set weak screens and cry before and after games about not having isolation plays set up for him in the post.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Man of Steel failed

Last night I watched the movie Man of Steel for the first time. I'll start by saying that I really wanted to love this movie, I really did. It had talented people behind its creation (Zack Snyder - 300, Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight) and had a story based around Superman and alien invasions. What was there not to like?

Unfortunately, quite a bit. The main issue I had with the movie was the disconnect between the characters and their interactions not only with each other but with the story itself. I just didn't care about them at all, even Henry Cavill's superman, who despite looking the part never really had any dialogue of significance and seemed to be detatched and depressed for the majority of the film. 

I blame Christopher Nolan for that last bit. Dark, gritty, realistic, and brooding might work for Batman, but it sure as hell doesn't fit into a story about Superman. This is a guy who should basically be a god on earth, somebody who isn't directly affected by earthly problems but still cares due to his upbringing. The somber Cavill Superman never really seems "heroic," in fact I think what I'm getting at is that Nolan tried to make somebody who is inherently not human too human. As a result, the story suffered and became, at least to me, vapid and not engrossing at all. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Phablets will die off

A Galaxy Note II shown dwarfing what is considered to be a large smartphone, the Galaxy S3.

I can't tell you how many times I've read an article or forum post about smartphones that seems to laud the so-called "phablet." For those who do not know, a phablet is a device that attempts to merge the benefits of a smartphone and a tablet. They are usually somewhere between 5.3 and 6.5 inches, and aim to provide the user with the screen real estate to watch movies and do more productive tasks on their phone.

The downside? They are very large. This may not be a problem for the guy or girl who has cargo pants or a large purse, but for the majority of the jean/short wearing population of the world it's hard to fit a wallet and a phablet into a pair of normal pockets without feeling constricted.

Additionally, the reason most people love phablets is due to their aforementioned ability to meld a tablet and phone into one device. At the same time however, this is also why the phablet fails. Because it is an amalgamation of two different devices, the phablet has compromised its ability to be great at any one task.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Top 5 TV Show Intros

I watch a lot of TV. Probably too much, to be honest.

Here are my favorite show intros...

5. Community 

Link to intro:

I love this show. The humor is top notch and some of its storylines are surprisingly dark and complex despite the lighthearted manner in which the show presents itself. I think the intro captures all of that, especially through its more melancholy undertones (revealed when you listen to the lyrics.)

 4. Downton Abbey 

Link to intro:

This show is very peculiar in that it manages to be extremely entertaining despite being nearly entirely devoid of sex or violence. This is due to the fantastic characters and the stories that cause them to clash in a number of entertaining ways.

The intro itself serves as a time machine of sorts, taking you back to an age and a way of life that no longer exists in today's world. The music is slightly depressing and uplifting at the same time, which is proper considering the way the show tells its stories. All in all it's a great way to start off a good hour of television.

Dwight Howard's Departure

Less than a year after it began, the Dwight Howard era of the Los Angeles Lakers has come to a close.

Yesterday marked the end of an era for the Los Angeles Lakers. Less than a year after he was signed, Dwight Howard has decided to leave the Lakers for the Houston Rockets.

Most Lakers fans I know, including myself, really aren't too surprised. Indeed, as seen on the popular fan site, the majority of Lakers fans couldn't care less about Dwight leaving for the Rockets. What this reveals is the love-hate relationship we Lakers fans have had with this pseudo superman ever since he signed with us last August.

It is true that most Lakers fans hated the cocky, aloof Andrew Bynum and were pleased when Dwight waltzed in to take his place. But it was also clear that Dwight never had a great amount of chemistry with anybody on our team. Kobe had a much better relationship with Pau, and even Steve Nash, the former Suns MVP who was the Lakers' other big free agent signing last year, than he ever did with Dwight. And really, it's this disconnection between Dwight and the rest of the team that defined his time with us.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Runner

Ray Baker lived on the top floor of an immense structure, hundreds of stories high. Outwardly, the building had the appearance of a typical skyscraper, with the exception of the ring-like structure that crowned its rooftop. Baker lived in this halo like penthouse. He was not made of money, but through luck had won the lottery several years earlier. Though it was a large amount, Baker had squandered the majority of it through poor investments, frivolities, and the home in which he now lived.

The halo was equipped with a balcony that jutted out several meters, and had no obvious support besides being attached to the greater structure. Baker stood there now, pacing, holding a slim rectangular device to his ear. The balcony appeared to be open to the elements, but in reality there were invisible mechanisms shielding the space from the ruthless winds present at that height.

Monday, July 1, 2013

When is Star Wars the Old Republic at its best? When it tries to be KOTOR 3.

Anybody who has played an MMORPG before has probably heard of the game Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was released at the end of 2011 and was supposed to take the MMO gaming world over by storm. Unfortunately for Bioware and EA, it never came close to doing that and today is a free to play game that manages to maintain a few hundred thousand monthly subscribers. This is a far cry from what EA imagined when they pumped millions into its development.

But I am not here to criticize the failures of SWTOR. In fact, I actually have fun with the game, mainly due to its dialogue and choice system that isn't present in any other MMO that I have played. Indeed, I actually like the game itself more than WoW and Guild Wars 2.

Book Recommendation: Saga of Seven Suns by Kevin J. Anderson

The Saga of Seven Suns is a science fiction series written by Kevin J. Anderson. Essentially, it is an easy read about humanity's discovery of powerful alien forces throughout the universe that are far more dangerous, ancient and technologically capable than they are.

It is not the best series of books ever written, and often times Anderson takes far too long to explain simple plot points. Indeed, this series of seven books probably could have been chopped down to about three or four. In my mind that would have greatly improved the pacing of the story.

If all you want is an action filled story of alien invasion however, this is the series for you. I read all seven books and enjoyed them, despite the reservations I had about them stated above. In my opinion the first five books are the best, indeed, the conclusion of the fifth book could have probably been sufficient in ending the series. Books six and seven fall flat in providing a sufficiently gratifying ending to such a long series, though they were still entertaining to read.

Overall, if you want something to read over summer and you are into the science fiction or alien invasion genres, this is one series you should probably check out. It isn't the best written or most intelligent series of books ever created, but it should be sufficient in providing you with a decent amount of entertainment.

If I had to rate The Saga of Seven Suns as a whole, I'd probably give it 7/10.

Alan Wake First Impressions

I just recently fired up this game again. Finished episode one a few minutes ago. So far I really like it. As a fan of the show Supernatural, I think it captures that same sense of creepiness and foreboding mixed with healthy amounts of action and humor.

It isn't a horror game on the level of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but it will provide a few scares for the faint of heart. Overall I think of it more as a third person shooter with a dark/mysterious storyline than a game whose sole purpose is to try and freak out the player and keep them from sleeping at night.

I'll make a new post when I've gotten further into the game. Thus far however I'd say it was well worth the dirt cheap price I bought it for ($3).

About The Author

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Nicholas Garcia (M.A.) is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. He is also a Co-Founder of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. Previously, he contributed to and the Davis Humanities Institute.