Scott Hanselman

God of War Review

June 3, '06 Comments [15] Posted in Reviews | Gaming
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102cI don't play a lot of video games, and I rarely "finish" one. In the last few years I've only finished both Halos and the Splinter Cell series. Usually I get a few hours into a game, I think "OK, I get it" then I'm playing against the developer of the game and not the game itself.

Although I'd love to finish Prince of Persia and others, their levels and play-style just don't propel me forward with enthusiasm.

A while back I read an article on the best games of 2005 in Play Magazine. Each reviewer/editor put God of War in their top 5 games, as well as the #1 Action Game on any platform. I didn't have a PS2, and have not been impressed (at all) with the graphics of the console. I've been an Xbox guy since day 1. I was into the Dreamcast, then there was a lull until the Xbox.

Anyway, I asked around and Greg Hughes was kind enough to give me an older-style unused PS2. I picked up a copy of God of War for $19.95, got a few adapters and such from Radio Shack and hooked up the PS2 to my Dell 2001FP 16:9 monitor.

Of course, it's only 480p resolution, but once I got past the 'blurriness' of the graphics and into the game...this game is flippin' EPIC.

Not since Halo has a game literally pushed me forward, from level to level, amazing me at every turn. The fighting action is much like ballet with spins and turns and jumps, but there's also a juggling/combo element where you can hit enemies as many as 100+ times, often keeping them in the air for a half-minute or longer. There's also a very clever finishing move mini-game for each large monster that integrates pre-choreographed moves where you keep up by following onscreen prompts while the protagonist does crazy moves beyond the scope of the control scheme.

There's a battle about 3/4 of the way in with a 50-foot tall armored Minotaur that took me at least 20 tries to finish, but each try was as fresh as the first. The dramatic size differences between you and the bosses really give a sense of scale. You'll spend a time fighting another 6-foot-tall bad guy and you're both a reasonable size on the screen, then his papa shows up and the whole thing zooms out. There's been a number of "whoa" moments where even though the screen resolution is slow, it's clear there's some real bad-ass technologists behind this game.

It's not just walking and hacking and slashing either. This game has everything. Swimming, puzzles, some amazing climbing levels. There's a very long middle sequence where you have to find a Titan roaming in the desert with a castle strapped to his back, then you'll spend several hours inside the castle. I'd forgotten I was in a building on a beast's back until I had to head out a window and climb some more...the camera shifts and you can see the beast toes thousands of feet below, still wondering the desert.

The level loading is virtually non-existent which gives a very seamless feel to the whole world. Just as Oblivion sucked me in with its fantasy world, so did God of War. If you can borrow or rent a PS2, this is reason enough to give that aging console a try.

My only beef with God of War is its complete lack of support for Deaf Gamers and subtitles. I always turn the subtitles on in a game so I don't miss anything. The only game I've ever seen really support the hearing-impaired well was Half-Life 2 that not only included subtitles, but also on-screen prompts of audible cues.

This omission is particularly glaring during the Siren's in the Desert level where you have to use the multi-channel audio of the Siren's song to guide you through endless sands. For a hearing person this is a small thing, but the lack of support puts the full enjoyment of God of War out of the reach of the deaf gamer.

(Disclaimer: God of War is rated M, totally not appropriate for kids or anyone sensitive to violence or nudity)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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How to disable Windows Media Player Guide

June 1, '06 Comments [7] Posted in Musings | Tools
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DisablemediaguideThis email struck me as fun, and I felt like answering it (to the best of my ability):

Hello, I know you are busy and probably do not answer random questions, but I do not know who to turn to and you're a random name off the internet.

I use windows media player.  I like to optimize the way things run to do what I want.  I've been obsessively seeking a way to disable the media guide.  I do not want it accessing the internet and trying to sell me anything I do not plan on buying in the first place.

It seems like a conspiracy and I have been unable to remedy this situation.  In desperation I've emailed a good friend of mine and you. 

Where would I go to find this information?  I've done about five google searches and clicked over forty links.  Any help you can offer will be IMMENSELY appreciated.

Here's what I came up with:

In Windows Media Player go Tools|Options|Privacy and uncheck EVERY checkbox. This will at least keep Media Player from suggesting things.

Then, go to your c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc and open the file called "HOSTS" in notepad. Add these lines at the very end:

127.0.0.1  windowsmedia.com
127.0.0.1  services1.windowsmedia.com
127.0.0.1 
www.windowsmedia.com

This doesn't remove the "Guide" Tab, but effectively neuters it.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Unblocking blocked attachments in Outlook

June 1, '06 Comments [9] Posted in Musings
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My wife emailed me a PST file that she wanted archived to our RAID array. It was easier for her to email it. However, Outlook blocked the attachment because of the PST extension, as it does for many extensions. Some of the blocking I find irritating and a little paranoid.

Here's how to unblock blocked attachments.

(Substitute the appropriate version numbers for your installation, 12 is 2007, 11 is 2003, etc.)

Picture of REGEDIT showing the Registry Key

Add a registry string value under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\<VERSION>\Security called Level1Remove and add the extensions you want with leading dots and trailing semicolons like:

.pst;.rar

Picture of a message in Outlook with a PST file NOT being blocked

And all is well.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hanselminutes Podcast 19

May 31, '06 Comments [3] Posted in Podcast | ASP.NET | XML | Tools
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HanselminutesMy eighteenth nineteenth Podcast is up. This episode is all about BitTorrent and TVRSS.

We're listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory, so I encourage you to subscribe with a single click (two in Firefox) with the button below. For those of you on slower connections there are lo-fi and torrent-based versions as well.

Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Our sponsors are CodeSmith Tools, PeterBlum and the .NET Dev Journal. There's a $100 off CodeSmith coupon for Hanselminutes listeners - it's coupon code HM100. Spread the word, now's the time to buy.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

  • Each show will include a number of links, and all those links will be posted along with the show on the site. There were a number of sites mentioned in this episode, some planned, some not.
  • The basic MP3 feed is here, and the iPod friendly one is here. There's a number of other ways you can get it (streaming, straight download, etc) that are all up on the site just below the fold. I use iTunes, myself, to listen to most podcasts, but I also use FeedDemon and it's built in support.
  • Note that for now, because of bandwidth constraints, the feeds always have just the current show. If you want to get an old show (and because many Podcasting Clients aren't smart enough to not download the file more than once) you can always find them at http://www.hanselminutes.com.
  • I have, and will, also include the enclosures to this feed you're reading, so if you're already subscribed to ComputerZen and you're not interested in cluttering your life with another feed, you have the choice to get the 'cast as well.
  • If there's a topic you'd like to hear, perhaps one that is better spoken than presented on a blog, or a great tool you can't live without, contact me and I'll get it in the queue!

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Z is Six Months Old

May 30, '06 Comments [22] Posted in Parenting | Z
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Z is six months old today. He's sitting up, sleeping from 8 to 8, eating bananas, rolling all over the place and his mouth is open (as seen below) nearly 24 hours a day. We stopped reading the books that give measurements and tests, but we figure he's where he's supposed to be - he's happy at the very least. He's one jolly fellow.

CIMG5127CIMG5071CIMG5124

Things we've learned in the last six months

  • Babies that can't walk CAN leap off beds head-first and¬†stick the landing.
  • Breastfed Baby poop is cute; Solid-fed Baby¬†poop less so.
  • Everyone has an opinion and only yours matters.
  • If you're a geek folks will assume your infant has a laptop and a blackberry even if you want him to be the outdoorsman you aren't. You'll find out who knows you and who doesn't at this point.
  • Your wife is always cold and you're always hot, and she'll transfer her temperature paranoia to the baby, who will be bundled in a large blanket in the sweltering heat. "He's nippy!"
  • Babies don't respect national holidays, nor do they appreciate sleeping in.
  • Digital cameras were made for babies.
  • You think you love you wife when you marry her. Then you have a baby and you realize you'd throw your wife yourself under a bus to save your baby. You can't love something more.

Pics of the ongoing saga are always at http://www.flickr.com/photos/computerzen/.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.