Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

Boxee Box, my new favourite toy

Boxee BoxI’ve had a Boxee Box for several months now, and since I haven’t done a review in ages, I feel it’s time to sing its praises. This great little device is a Home theater PC (HTPC) or also called a Media Centre. Before I bought the device I did a crazy amount of research and I just couldn’t find the right solution for me. My criteria was simple, I wanted something affordable, I didn’t want to build my own HTPC, and I didn’t want to be locked down. The Boxee fit the bill on all of these, but when it was first released it was lacking many features and early reviews said it quite buggy. Fast forward almost a year and the Boxee team refocuses their efforts entirely on set-top boxes and mobile devices bringing in much more favourable reviews. I can say that I’m glad I waited, and the Boxee Box is definitely now ready for prime time.

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What’s better than Pinball?

Pinball TablesI know, many of you are probably thinking “Nothings better than pinball!”. Well how about unlimited Pinball, how about a Pinball tournament? Okay, I think I have sealed my geek status for life now. Anyway, this weekend I went to a Pinball tournament and it was way fun. The entrance fee was 20 dollars and all the tables (a lot) were set up to play for free, no quarters needed. A friend and I spent the better half of a day just flipping away at little steal balls.

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Microsoft’s second ad with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld a hit?

Microsoft’s second ad with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld is out today. The first one didn’t do much for me, but this one is a lot better and after seeing it the first one also makes more sense as it kind of sets the stage for future installments. I’m now really curious to see where Bill and Jerry’s journey will lead them next. By the time this series is over I have a feeling we will be more attached to these two witty characters.

Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld

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Star Wars: Clone Wars a dud?

So I did something I rarely do, I ran out and saw a movie from a franchise I love without looking at any reviews and saw it on the second day. Usually I hold out for a week or even several weeks, but with Star Wars I figured how could I lose? Yes the newest Star Wars movies don’t come close to the originals, but they were all entertaining in their own right. Below is a list of how I would personally rank every Star Wars movie to date.

  1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  3. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  4. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  5. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  6. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars Clone Wars Yoda

Yoda in Star Wars: Clone Wars

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Scrabulous is back! Well sort of

WordscraperThe makers of the incredibly popular Scrabulous application for Facebook were told to remove the application or face legal action by Hasbro, the makers of the original dusty Scrabble board. Hasbro lacking any vision of their own waited until they had their own Scrabble application. Reports are saying that this application is not near as polished as Scrabulous was.

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Diablo 3 announced

Diablo 3First Star Craft II and now Diablo III! I really hope these games don’t come out at the same time, there’s only so much awesomeness one person can be expected to experience in any given time frame. It was announced at Blizzard’s Worldwide Invitational 2008 in Paris.

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Duke Nukem Forever video?

Duke Nukem ForeverA video is online called The Jace Hall Show claiming to have video footage of Duke Nukem Forever. Okay, stop laughing for a minute, it looks like it really is some footage of some video game. There is an interview with the developers George Broussard and Scott Miller of 3D Realms and blurry footage of “the game”, it’s quite funny, so check it out. Could it be possible that after 12 years of development they might actually have something? Still not holding my breath.

GTA IV – Does it live up to the hype?

GTA IV was released yesterday, and I managed to put in several hours last night. I played the single player for about 30 minutes and then went straight into the multi player free mode. I haven’t played it long enough to write up a review, but at first glance does it live up to the hype? Definitely, definitely definitely! That means yes.

The polish on this game is stunning. The AI is great, the graphics are fantastic, the fun level is through the roof, what more could you ask for. The attention to detail is what blows me away the most. Things they didn’t need to add, but did anyway, like dripping water when you come out of a lake, or mud tracks on the beach. Hilarious politically charged commentators on the TV and radios. The sound track should have something for everyone too. Let’s not forget the helicopters, bikes, mopeds, buses, trucks, boats, and who knows what else awaits.

If you are still on the fence about this game, GameTrailers has a fairly in depth review.

Robots! A real one, and a not so real one

BigDog Boston DynamicsAbout a month ago someone sent me this really freaky YouTube video of a robot called BigDog created by Boston Dynamics. The military implications are obvious, along with funding from DARPA. That said, the BigDog video is pretty cool although abit unsettling.

Now for a second take there is the BigDog Beta. Don’t watch this until you have watched the original BigDog video as it won’t make much sense. Without giving too much away, the BigDog Beta video had me in stitches.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarI finally finished reading World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. I haven’t had as much time to read lately, but I sat down earlier this morning and decided to finish it.

The book title may sound silly, and if you have read The Zombie Survival Guide by Brooks you may even be expecting some humour, but you will find very little in this book. This is a much more serious and tragic novel about a writer who is chronicling a factual book about the Zombie outbreak 10 years after it has occurred. This writer also put together the official UN reports and felt that he needed to write a more human account of the tale.

Without giving too much away, the entire book is made up of short chapters sometimes only a few pages long chronicling the lives of individuals and their experiences throughout the Zombie War. The book is fantastic, and there are plans to turn it into a motion picture. Every story is well thought out and most of them are very believable and convincing.

If you have ever watched a Zombie movie or even read Zombie books, usually they are fairly hokey or they deal with one small isolated situation like a mall or even a city. World War Z covers the entire spectrum of the planet and many different scenarios. The book delves right into the politics and how badly many governments screwed up, but it also covers many other situations. Ever wondered what would happen to the oceans during a worldwide Zombie outbreak, or the mad rush to flee cities? What about the internet addicted shut in who follows the entire outbreak from the illusional safety of his room in Tokyo right up until the Zombies knock on his door? What about someone who is blind with no one to help them during the chaos. The book covers many personal stories like these.

This is every Zombie fans must read book and most have probably already read it by now, but because it’s so different from the run of the mill Zombie genre, I think many non-Zombie fans will really enjoy this book too. I guess it’s classified as horror, but it’s really not that scary and actually far more emotionally tragic.

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