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10:22 PM on 04.30.2010

ModNation PSP code

I don't need this code for the PSP demo of Modnation racers, up for grabs if anyone wants it:
78B3-76B2-59LA   read

6:01 PM on 03.16.2008

Not my Turning Point gaming rig

Dude, I got a Dell. This machine is almost 7 years old now. Its actually running well still, though obviously I can't play new games anymore. I had to double the RAM a few years back, up to 1GB. Damn Dell and their expensive, proprietary RAM! I still log time on Warcraft 3 and it plays just fine. I never could get the Farcry demo to play consistenly, and haven't even tried another game since. My dream is to one day build my own machine from scratch, in time for Starfcraft 2! Or, just win a new one...   read

1:42 PM on 03.16.2008

Blockbuster Online raises prices, kills puppies. How dare they try to stop losing money!

Having worked in the customer service industry for several years, I have learned first hand that the most difficult customers to work with are the ones who feel you "owe" them something for being one of your customers. Blockbuster Online recently increased the rate of their monthly service, and notified customers with an email explaining the change. Of course customer reaction has been extremely negative (OMG Blockbuster is the devil!), and one of my favorite websites, The Consumerist, picked up on it and made this post:

Highlights in bold, my responses in regular font:

We like this part: “The benefits of your subscription plan will remain the same…and it’s a value of $34.99!” Oh really? Is that similar to the set of knives that are an “over $200 value” for just “one easy payment of $19.99?” Because I saw those on TV, and I was really wondering how they figured out that set of knives had a $200 value. Maybe Blockbuster knows.

You know who else knows? Math. The 19.99 plan allows 3 movies out at a time and unlimited online rentals. The big uproar is that the plan, in addition to going up by 2 dollars, limits in store exchanges to 5 per month, whereas before it was unlimited. If a customer in one month gets 3 movies in the mail, exchanges all three at the store, gets 3 more in the mail, then exchanges 2 of those in the store to hit the exchange limit, he ends up watching 11 movies. Assuming those are new release movies, which rent for $4.25 at my local Blockbuster, the customer is actually getting $46.75 worth of movies, which is more than what Blockbuster was claiming! Even if those movies were actually from the Blockbuster favorites catalog (released more than 1 year ago), the total value of the package is $32.89 (2.99 per rental in store).

It’s no secret that Blockbuster is losing money every month with their online service. Google it and you can find plenty of articles detailing just how much this program is eating into their bottom line. What would you expect them to do? A follow up post on The Consumerist listed out some of the reactions from customers upon receiving the price increase email:


"I don't know what planet you are from, but the marketing technique of "make the company richer at the expense of existing customers" does not translate well to consumers. I would understand a price hike for new customers, but to slap your current customers in the face with these OUTRAGEOUS prices is absurd. This is especially true when said consumers can get a drastically better deal from your competitor and they are still dropping prices. Have you thought about how your pricing plans compare with Netflix, your main competitor in the online movie rental industry? Its no wonder Blockbuster has lost so much money in the past quarter. Not to mention losing over half a million customers." –Kris

Hi Kris, I am pretty sure they hail from the planet where allowing a customer that costs you far more than you will ever get back to continue to bleed you out of money is NOT a good business deal. Yes they will lose your business, which means they will stop losing money on you. And I wouldnt call the $3 price difference with Netflix a "drastically" better deal, since its only $3, and you get 5 in store exchanges with the Blockbuster plan.

i just got this email from blockbuster, this sh#$ is getting rediculous?!? i was happy with my 14 dollar plan with unlimited trades, now im going to be paying 20 bucks a month for 5 trade ins and a lousy 4 movies a month? what a scam! –Chris

Hello Chris with a Ch, The only 20 dollar plan Blockbuster Online offers is unlimited online rentals (3 at one time) with 5 trade ins per month.

I have been using blockbuster online now for a few years and have been enjoying instore exchanges. Back in July they changed their subscription plans, but to my suprise i was grandfathered in under my old plan and was told i would not have to change my plan (at this time). Well last night was time. I got an email saying the price would go to 19..99 from 17.99 and only get a limited number of instore exchanges. Granted i probably use about an average of about 4 instore exchanges a month (some months i use 10 but some i use 1), but this might be the straw that breaks the camels back and send me BACK to Netflix. -Will

Hi Will, Go back to Netflix. For 16.99 per month, you will get unlimited online rentals with 3 out at a time. For 3 dollars more at Blockbuster, you would get the same thing but would continue to be able using the 4 exchanges each month, which adds a value (hello again, math!) of $17 to the package.

As I have explained to Blockbuster before, I am sorry that I signed up for their offers and made them so successful, but I won't do it anymore. I'm going back to Netflix ASAP. -Greg

Hi Greg, You made them so successful that they lost money in the 3rd quarter. Actually, you will personally lose them money every month that you remain an active subscriber on the old plans, which isn’t much of an incentive to keep you around. Netflix isn’t hemorrhaging money on its customers every month because they don’t have to worry about in store exchanges, so I am sure they will be glad to have you as a customer.

Blockbuster is now trying to raise out rate by two bucks a month after sending an e-mail a couple months back telling us our service nor price was changing. They really know how to keep customers! I'm out of there! -Wayne

Hi Wayne, If you had a customer that cost you $2 a month, would you a) keep him and just keep losing money, b) adjust his price and plan to try to actually make $2 a month, with the risk that he might leave and provide you with no money each month, but also not cost you anything?   read

5:57 PM on 03.03.2008

PS3 Socom 32-player, Still Can' t Top the Original

“full 32-player online battles”

This is terrible, terrible news. I don’t even have a PS3, but if they could return Socom to its former glory I would pick one up in a second. The original Socom is still my top ranked online console game, and I still hope for the day when a next-gen title can match its greatness.

The developer made an amazing online game by using some unusual rules for Socom 1. It has since abandoned those rules, I believe, to try and gain more “mass market” appeal. One life, round based gameplay with no on screen life indicator, accurate, quick kill weapons, well balanced guns with no “ultimate” weapon, push button voice chat… all of these made Socom unique from all other online titles that have come after it. Having to sit out for up to 6 minutes between rounds if you get killed kept the matches from becoming run and gun affairs. No lifebar meant you had no idea how many bullets you could take- you couldn’t take many anyway, but regardless, no indicator meant you had to weigh each potential encounter with the thought that one hit could take you out. There were no “noob tubes” or giant explosive weapons that simply ruled any map in the game, instead each gun performed differently in recoil, magazine size, and range, so all you had to worry about was which one you could handle best and not whether it would stand up to the biggest or most popular gun. I actually didn’t like the need to push a button to talk to the team at the time, but after listening to all of the garbage over my headset on Live, I can’t help but think that if it wasn’t so easy to be an idiot with constant communication, maybe the airwaves would be a little more bearable.

Rambling aside, Socom was great because you were Navy Seals, working with a small team on memorable maps to outmaneuver and take out the other team (or plant the bomb!) That is a far cry from the direction they have taken the series even as early as the 2nd iteration. Obviously with this new 32 player Socom, the focus continues to go towards large scale, respawnable battles, aka “obscurity”.   read

12:42 PM on 02.29.2008

How to lose Achievements + 4 hours of your life

"Recovering" your gamertag to someone else's machine, on top of taking a looong time, can be dangerous, as I learned the hard way this past week. Long story to follow!

Last Sunday I could not connect to Live for whatever reason on my 360, so after the kids went to bed I ran through the entire single player campaign on COD4. This netted a big chunk of achievement points. I also made sure to go out of my way to pick up the non-required ones, like knifing 3 opponents in a row, not getting spotted on the sniper level, etc. Fun. Also through in some time on Mass Effect...

My friends and I meet up to play Rock Band from time to time, and when we do, we all recover our gamertags to the host's machine. We met up this past Tuesday and rocked all night long.

Cut to Wednesday night. I had a free moment so I turned my 360 on, and it was able to connect to Live right away. It recognized that my profile had been recovered to a different location, and required me to go through the steps of re-recovering my profile back to my 360. Nothing unusual. However, it turns out that because I didn't get the COD4 + Mass Effect achievements while I was connected to Live, it didn't register them on my profile when I transferred it to my friends machine. So when I transferred my profile back to my own 360, it picked up the stats that did NOT include my Sunday night playtime, and wrote over the profile on my machine, leaving me with none of the levels or achievements from either game.

Achievements are not a BIG deal to me, but they are fun, and I like competing with my friends on individual games. I will have to start Mass Effect over if I want to re-pick up the ones you get at the start of the game. I was still able to play my saved game from COD4 which was right on the last level, so I rebeat it and it unlocked all of the previous levels again, but it did not give me back my achievements. I will have to replay the entire game if I want to get my gamerscore ahead of Master Pigbeast's.

Looking back now I understand my mistake, though I still think its unusual that my own machine didn't recognize my achievements and add them in during the account migration.

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