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About
The earliest memory of me and gaming was when I saw my father sitting at the computer playing King's Quest I. He had this extreme level of dedication to that game with hand drawn maps, personal notes, and hints from friends littering the desk. It was also my first foray in typing. Unlike the other kids at school who learned to type on Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, I learned from video games.

These days I'm extremely busy with school and try to fit in at least an hour every night. I try finding other gamers in situations like mine who enjoy gaming but don't have the time for those 20+ sessions.

I also like review gaming hardware that you find at your local china town. Knock off and bootlegs are awesome!

Currently Playing: Super Turbo HD Remix Beta, Puzzle Fighter, FIFA '08, Singstar, Rock Band
Favorite Games: Street Fighter series, King Quest Series, Space Quest Series, Progear
Coming Soon: Sengoku Basara X, KOF '98 Ultimate, Arcana Heart, Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus

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“Air strike motherfucker!”

And with that enthusiastic cry, I was alerted to how thin the walls of my apartment
were. Long the domain of squeaky mattresses and slamming headboards, gaming has
taken its place among the various sounds you have to put up with. Gaming: oh how
you’ve grown.

As many of you have probably already realized, the drums in Rock Band can get pretty
loud when you’re wailing away at them. Luckily there’s a solution in the form of foam
pads.

In an effort to bring you dtoiders reviews for gaming accessories you find on eBay and
your local China Town, I decided to pick one up from eBay. Since I’ve picked these up,
there have been tons of other sellers offering everything from rubber to foam. They
even have Official Rock Band Drum Pad Silencers.

You start off by cleaning the pad with a wet paper towel to get all the dust or lint that
might have accumulated on the pads.



Once those were cleaned you just peal back the self-adhesive backing of the pad and
carefully apply the foam making sure it’s in the middle of the pad. The set I bought
came with four colored ones and 4 smaller black pads.



The sound is significantly reduced with these pads but not so much that you can’t hear
your own rhythm over the music and other instruments. Just how much lower is the
sound? Check out this sound file (WMA - 64KB). You’ll have to excuse the whirling noise
in the background (and my near laugh at the end). My roommate was using the Wii Fit.

http://www.bemusementpark.com/phamtq/destructoid/drums.wma

With an additional layer of covering, the next thing you may ask is how much harder do
you have to hit the pad to register it with the game. Since I don’t play the drums much
I felt I had to hit a tad bit harder but after a few songs, I didn’t even notice it. Maybe I
was hitting them softer before because of the noise level. My roommate, who plays the
drums a lot more than I do noted that some of the hit weren’t registering especially the
green one but that could be due to body mechanics and seating level.

So should you spend the $16 some odd dollars? If you’re in an apartment or condo, I’d
definitely recommend them, as pissing off your neighbors probably isn’t the wisest
decision you could make. Also if you’re not the best players, your drumming won’t
throw off your teammates. The only thing that’s really keeping me from recommending
this is the fact that you have to hit harder although some of you out there probably
won’t have that problem.

So there you have it; my second hardware review! Next up, the 360 off-off-name brand
rechargeable battery pack. Man do I have something’s to say about that!
Photo Photo Photo








So the review for this came in a little late. I remembered I left my camera at a friend's house so I had to use one of my much older point and shoot digital cameras. Hopefully the picture quality isn't too low for you.

Also, ignore the the black stuff on the carpet. ^_^;

MayFlash XBOX 360/PC VGA Switch



Like many gamers, I use a computer monitor to hook up my gaming systems. The image quality is excellent (better than component IMO) and it reduces the number of devices I need on an already cramped desk.

When I first bought the VGA cable I thought swapping out the cable when I needed to use the computer wasn't going to be a big deal. But as time went on it became more of a chore to tilt the monitor forward, unscrew the connectors, and swap out the cable. Plus I came to the realization that my cheapo Target Black Friday monitor probably couldn't hold up to the constant swapping. So it was time to find a VGA switch.

But that task turned out to be a lot of work. Old VGA switches either didn't work or produced a ghosting image. Some worked well on CRT monitors but not on LCDs. Even the newer electronic switching has some issues and you can forget using some of the KVM switches. They require both "units" to be able to use a USB keyboard and they're on the expensive side.



Through my search one product kept coming up. A black box made by an unknown company. I gotta admit I was a little weary about spending any money on a potentially busted product even if it was only $15. Plus these Chinese products aren't really known for being completely honest with their product information. Hell, even their web site looks like an IGN knockoff.

So I ended up buying one off of eBay. For those of you who don't want to read through the rest of the review, I'll sum it up for you: It works. Surprisingly so.

Packaging



As you can see it has everything to need to get started. It comes with a VGA cable and a head phone extension cable. Often these kinds of products give you the bare minimum and force you to head back out and pick up extra things which pisses me off to no end. MayFlash gets big bonus points for going the extra step and including all the stuff you need.

Connecting the Cables



Armed with at least a 3rd grade education you shouldn't have any problems hooking this thing up. Everything feels stable and secure and you don't have to worry about handling the unit with kid gloves. It's doesn't have the sturdiest feel or the weight but it also doesn't have that ultra cheap cancer causing plastic some other products have.

Ease of Use



There's really no way to screw this up. The switch is silky smooth so you shouldn't have to try very hard to move it. And at the size of slightly less than a 360 controller, you shouldn't have any trouble tucking it away somewhere nice and neat and within reach.

Image Quality




OMG! WTF Spoilers!!!

This is probably what you're waiting for. Does this $15 product perform as well as it advertises? Yes! I experienced no ghosting or lag and the image quality was just as good as plugging the 360/PC directly into the monitor. It handled the switch between 1440 x 900 and 1360 x 768 with no flickering or weird behavior.

So there we have it! My first product review for something you've probably come across but didn't know if it was worth buying. Feel free to post comments or questions. I'll try and get to them as soon as I can. But for right now, time for sleep...
Photo Photo Photo







phamtq
5:40 PM on 04.19.2008

I love a good deal. So much so I'm willing to spend money on a knock off to save a few
bucks. Of course it isn't as easy as it sounds. Since a lot the gaming accessories you
might find on eBay don't show the real name of the product or the company name, it
makes searching for reviews difficult. That's where I come in.

It's been a dream of mine to start a website that reviews products from things you see
on informercials, the back of the magazine ads, or chinese sellers on eBay. Since that
probably won't be a reality anytime soon, I can at least concentrate solely on video
game accessories.

For example, I wanted to hook up my 360 and PC to the same monitor. Looking online
I found that some of the older manual switch boxes produced horrible images (ghosting,
etc...) The new ones were kind of on the expensive side and I didn't want to buy some
KVM switch that may or may not work. Then I stumbled upon this thing:



Designed specifically for the 360 and the PC, this black box allows you to connect with
the audio and video outputs of your PC and 360 to one monitor. At $15 I thought I'd
give it a try.

I'll put the review up later today but I was wonder what products you'd like me to
review. Did you find an shady online store or a cheap eBay knockoff and wanted to
know if it's worth buying?

Here are somethings I have in the pipeline:

- Generic rechargeable 360 battery packs
- Rock Band noise reduction drum pads (eBay Auction #290223892518)
Photo








I aint gonna lie. I suck at the drums and cant seem to get past Medium on the guitar. Mind you thats with hours of going through the practice mode. I just dont have the level of manual dexterity these games require. I mean, just look at my hands!



So for me the only viable option is the microphone. But this post isnt about me or my awesome vocal skills. Its about the amazing power of singing with heart and energy and how it helps dump that cup of muck we accumulate during the course of our lives.

Singing is more than just repeating words to a music track. Its a form of controlled yelling thats very cathartic. Studies also show that singing is also good for your physical well being. For example, a study done in Germany showed that people who sang in a choir had increased levels of cortisol and immunoglobulin A.

Unlike other healthy activities, singing is really fun. I guess you can add Rock Bank to that list of games that help you get healthy. Dont believe me? Check out this fine gentleman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoS8j9eNMZU







phamtq
1:17 PM on 03.16.2008

Gather around children as I turn into an old man right before your eyes and tell you
how things used to be when I was young(er).

Back in the late 80's and through a lot of the 90's gamers would receive a bulk of news
and reviews from gaming magazines. Hell, there was even a "GameFaqs" feature there
outlining various tricks or moves for a particular games.

So what does it tell us about the fate of video game magazines? Some would point to
the fact that a lot of the gaming magazines are owned by big publishing companies
which look at the gaming portion of their magazine division and its gradually decreasing
subscription numbers. With Ziff-Davis filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy and stating $76
million dollars in revenue last year (compared to $300 million in 2001), it would seem
the magazine industry in general is having a hard time turning a profit.

Gaming magazines were a big part of my life growing up. I remember coming home
from school and checking the mailbox everyday to see if any of my magazines had
come. I would hate to have that experience dissolve away not just for me but for other
gamers too; especially those younger gamers getting into gaming.

What then needs to be done to save gaming magazines? I wasn't born with a strategic
business mind or blessed with years of experience in business but I'm a gamer. A gamer
who is confident in his preferences and with a belief that my choices aren't that far from
other gamers' choices. With that warning out of the way, here's what I want in a
gaming magazine:

Have More Art Spreads

Recently, I've come to love gaming related books of art. It all started when I saw a
preview for UDON's Art of Capcom and decided to make my way up to PAX for the
Limited Edition hardcover. Since then I've been on the look out for these kind of things.
I know it would cost more to have it on quality paper but I'd definitely be willing to pay
more money for something like that.

More Gaming Industry Information

Even though my career path takes me elsewhere, I love to read about what it's really
like to work in a company that makes games. Everything from how artist create their
content to what meetings are like. A regular feature in a magazine would great.

Politics

We often talk about how politician are against video games but very few of us are active
in changing the situation. Maybe it's due to the fact that these politicians don't realized
that an overwhelming number of gamers are of voting age, alpha consumers, and well
educated. I would love to have a magazine like EGM conduct an interview with a
politician about video games asking them questions that we want them to answer.
There are so many outlet for politicians to bash video games on anti-video game turf, it
would be nice to have one where they have to face gamers.

Deep Guide on Competitive Games

I remember hearing about frame data for fighting games and realized that most sources
of gaming help never went into it this deep. Those few sites that did provide information
didn't have much explanation on what the content meant or how it could be helpful.
Also a lot of the advanced stuff was all in Japanese so that didn't help. I would like a
section that was dedicated to this kind of thing. With gaming tournaments being more
and more common, this kind of thing would be great for those who don't know much
about the intricacies of various competition games.

So what about you folks? What would you like to see in magazines?

Also: Happy Birthday Niero!







phamtq
8:57 PM on 03.07.2008

There's something going on in the gaming community this Friday that seems to have
everyone on edge. I've seen people get into arguments, making curt comments,
and CheapyD's unleashed some anger on this week's podcast. I'm just as guilty as
everyone else as those who've seen my recent comments can attest.

And the thing is, I don't think we mean it. The amount of time I've spent on with
community has shown me that everyone here displays a lot of community support. From
the weekly gaming sessions like Fridays Night Fights to Dtoid meet ups. We agree to
disagree and we move on from it.

Today's just weird I guess. Not "Jack Thompson defending Mass Effect" bizarro weird but
out from the norm.

So that's my brief cblog post with some advice. Hop on the FNF and say nice to another
player while they're blowing your head off.