Razer is great for one product and that’s their Naga

For a couple of years now, I have stayed as far away from Razer products as I could. I had no luck with the Razer Lycosa and the Razer Onza TE was another nightmare. In fact, only Razer product I ever “loyally” used after that fiasco was a basic Razer Lachesis mouse. My keyboard replacement for the Lycosa was a Logitech Illuminated keyboard and the Xbox 360 controller? Never used again (in general)! I stopped playing any console games and actually made the switch to PC gaming. Best decision ever too!

The main title I’ve been playing for the last few years has been an MMORPG called Rift. Actually, it’s weird saying “few years” because it still only feels like I’ve been playing this game for a few months. Anyway, so as my experience grows in the MMO world, I have come to realize relying on just your keyboard for some insane keybinding combinations is really awkward. There’s only so many ways to combine Shift and ALT with letters and numbers. So.. a friend of mine kept telling me that I needed to buy a Razer Naga. The price was the main factor that prevented me from investing in the Naga.

Eventually, I caved in. I bought the Razer Naga and I do not regret it at all. It’s made my gaming and work life much more productive and easier. I admit that I was completely hesitant to drop more money on a Razer product but so far, I am proving myself wrong. They might not have reliable keyboards (at least for the Lycosa series) or controllers, but damn do they make good mice. My Lachesis went through a lot of uh, abuse and usage. My Naga just gets a lot of usage from work and gaming but it’s held up really well. My only qualm? I wish it was a little easier to dismantle to clean it out (on the inside) but I can’t complain.

10/10 – Would buy another Razer Naga

Razer Onza TE and the issues it has

I honestly was hoping I wouldn’t have to write another poor review on a Razer product but unfortunately I feel I have to. I’ve had my Razer Onza Tournament Edition for exactly one month now. I had been looking forward to it since it was announced at 2010’s CES. I pre-ordered it the second it was made available in January, so you can say I was definitely excited for it.

razer onza te

I got used to the controller fairly quick but the first issue that arose from the controller: Serious feedback from any mic being used with it. I tried it out with a pair of Astro A40s, Tritton AX 720s and then just the official Xbox 360 headset. Two of the three had severe feedback–it was bad enough that the feedback would output to people in my XBL party. The Xbox 360 feedback was only audible [to myself] when people were talking. It would pop/crackle when someone started talking and hiss/pop once they stopped talking. It was passive enough that I just did my best to ignore it. It sucked having to stop using headsets I dropped insane money on because of feedback.

That issue started the minute I used the controller unfortunately. If that was the only problem with it, I’d be content and deal with it. But it wasn’t. Two weeks ago both of the analog sticks started to have response issues. I should note that I had absolutely no slowturn issues at all. I ran the test and it passed 100 across the board. The issue I had was that the analog stick would just stop sending out a signal that it was still in use. While I was playing Modern Warfare 2 MP, a perk I often run with is marathon pro. That gives me endless sprint. So all I need to do is push/use the left analog stick and I’m running non-stop. Well, that definitely didn’t happen. I would constantly stop as if some invisible wall was spawned in front of me.

Then when I’d try to sprint again I would only be able to move what can be construed as 2-3 steps before I’d have to let go of the analog stick and then push it forward. This is frustrating because despite unplugging the controller (and eventually restarting my 360 Slim) the issue was still present. So not even 20 minutes later, I started to have issues with the right analog stick. It had the seem lack of response–it would stop accepting that I was moving the analog around and stick to the last position it was in.

Knowing all of the frustration I went through with my Razer Lycosa, I knew that I was not going to live with it and deal with it. I want a controller that works! I love the Onza TE, especially being able to map the buttons AND change the tension for the analog sticks is a GODSEND! The controller is slick, light-weight and response time with the buttons is amazing. I just am not going to use it with the analog stick issues. Whether or not it’s a bad controller or the entire batch, I’m hoping I can get an exchange for the Onza TE as soon as possible.

Going from the Onza TE to my old Xbox wireless controller is brutal!

Super busy the last few months

I have severely neglected my blog again :(. Around the time school started, I picked up another part-time job that is more like full-time and is pretty demanding of mine time. So between school work and work work, I have been absolutely swamped this year. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but I haven’t been able to do any fun coding on my site or work on any of my own projects.

Right now my weekend looks like it will be full of Adobe Flash for my midterm project that’s due Monday and a website for the website competition through JJC which is due by March 11th. Not only that but I also have a client I picked up over the week, so I’ve got his site I need to do. Blargghh, no time for anything anymore.

Either way, I don’t mind it so much but sometimes I feel like I never get ~me~ time anymore to do whatever I want. Perhaps this is what I can use to justify the fact that I want to purchase the Astro A30s for myself. Kind of tired with my current headset and wouldn’t mind having these. I almost bought a new 23″ Acer LED but I stopped myself for some reason. I suppose I felt that since I still have a secondary monitor that’s 19″, that I don’t need the 23″. Pfft.

It’s back to school for me

I made the decision to finally go back to school (again) after setting aside my grievances with learning material I more than likely already know. I have wanted to earn my Associate (in Applied Science) and then my Bachelor’s degree for quite some time but it just didn’t feel like it is something I really needed to do. I was going to go back for the Fall 2010 term but had some issues with classes I wanted (one was canceled and a replacement wasn’t possible due to scheduling conflicts). So I pushed it back to Spring 2011. Eesh, 2011.. That’s 7 years after graduating high school!

Since I’m pretty much a ‘freshman’ level (I’ve only got about 16 credits from the classes I took back in 2007) a lot of my courses are more rudimentary but I’m sucking it up and taking advantage of what should be an ‘A’ for the class. Ionly took four classes for a total of 12 credits as I didn’t want to go too crazy since it’s been quite some time since having a full school load. I’ve got a Flash CS4 class, Photoshop CS4 class, Adv Web Design and an E-Commerce class. Of the four the only one that will actually be new to me is my flash class. I’ve never enjoyed flash (and the last time I even attempted it was probably 2006) so this will be a nice little addition for me. The photoshop class is definitely going to be something I already have experience with but I decided that I would like to LEARN how to be more efficient with it. I’m ass backwards when it comes to working with it. What I should be able to do in ~10 minutes with various tools within PS, I probably take ~20+ or more since I do it the ‘hard way.’

Adv Web Design and E-commerce are other Major Core requirements for my AAS so I’ll be trying to make the best of it since these are two I am very knowledgeable in. If anything I can take all the pride in being a teacher’s pet or something ;). So here’s to promising myself to not act like a spoiled know-it-all like I did in 2007 when I wrote this: It should be easy for a webdesigner taking rudementary webdesign classes, right?. I’m here to take the class no matter what my skill level is or isn’t so I can get a good grade, finish through 68 semester hours and receive my Associates in Applied Science so I can be that much more bad ass.

I ditched the iPhone 3G for a Samsung Vibrant

Samsung Vibrant

For the last two and a half years, I have been an avid iPhone 3G user. I’ve probably spent upwards of $80 on various apps and just as much on random accessories. Once iOS 4 came out I really started to hate my iPhone. The new OS made my 3G ridiculously slow to the point where I would be waiting 1.5 seconds or more for the touchscreen to actually respond to any actions I was making. I contemplated going with the iPhone 4 but I honestly wanted to break free from the iPhone. I didn’t care about the front-facing camera which meant that the Galaxy S series phones would be the next best thing for me.

So in November I finally decided to make the switch to an Android based phone. I went with the Samsung Galaxy-S Vibrant. It is an amazing phone! The Vibrant has a 4″ WVGA Super AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass, 5MP Camera, supports 720p recording, 1GHz Humingbird processor and has 16GB of built-in storage with support for up to 32GB more with a microSDHC card.

The learning curve was pretty easy going from iOS to Android. The one thing I was hesitant of before even using the phone was the default Android keyboard but I installed Smart Keyboard Pro so I wouldn’t have to deal with the default. Other then that I was able to jump straight into the Android OS with little issues. In fact, some of the default UI was SO much better than on the iPhone it really made it’s usage much more efficient. No longer did I have to jailbreak the phone to have a springboard; I can just drag down my status bar on Android to access quick on/off functionalities for certain features and of course being able to see all notifications.

Samsung Vibrant Applications

It’s been over two months since I’ve gone Android and it’s definitely the best choice I could have made. I lucked out on my timing for switching to Android. Majority of the applications I used on iOS now have their own Android version in the App Market. Perhaps this was another reason why I held off on changing my phone for so long and not switching to Android earlier–I just didn’t want to have inferior Android apps and/or not have any alternative. Sure, there are some apps that I will no longer ever see on Android (TapTapTap, I’m looking at you!) but when I look at how often I’ve utilized them on iOS after purchasing, it’s not really a con for me. You can check out what apps I’m using on my AppBrain.com profile. It may look like a lot but it includes stock apps. I also don’t like utilizing too many apps so I often install/uninstall pending on its usage.

Neowin.net on the Samsung Vibrant

This has honestly been the best phone I’ve been able to use thus far. I tried out the iPhone 4 and a few of the WP7 phones that were out during early November but the Galaxy S series stuck. I think my favorite thing about the phone is the softkeys on the phone. I’ve got a settings key (works in phone itself and for apps that utilize it), home key, back key (works awesome for browser and in apps) and of course the search key. The first day of playing with the Vibrant, I jumped back to my iPhone 3G (since it was still active with old number) I found myself already fumbling to use the home and back button only to be annoyed I had to either tap the screen to go back or just hit the home button. I also love the haptic feedback when pressing the softkeys and various other UI elements that work with it (like the keyboard or clicking links in the browser.)

Since Froyo (Android OS version 2.2) has been delayed on the T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant perhaps until early next year, Steve and I ended up flashing our phones to an unofficial ROM for Froyo thanks to the awesome people over at XDA Forums that have posted up on it. Which, by the way, XDA Developers is probably the best site/forum to be a part of and reference for anything you need to know about your phone. The members there are serious about their phones and anything else related to them (accessories and the like) so it’s where I’ve been referencing for optimizing/updating my phone as well as ensuring I’ve got quality accessories to use with it.

Neowin.net on the Samsung Vibrant

So after a little over two months of usage, I’ve really got the phone optimized for the best battery performance. I have the display brightness dimmed down which is probably the number one reason for extra battery life! I use Advanced Task Manager by Arron La. This app helps me end running processes and/or apps so they’re not sucking the battery juice up. That way if I open up Gowalla, FourSquare, Facebook and Twitter.. they’re all not running which can honestly really drain the battery if I’m off charge for awhile and constantly using the phone. With the slide down status/notification window, I can also turn off wifi easily when I’m out and about. Turning off wifi prevents it from constantly running trying to pick up a signal. It’s just easier for me to stick with 3G data since I’ve got an unlimited data plan. With all of the little tweaks I’ve done, I’ve been able to get to 40 hours of life off of a single charge (from 100%). This includes gMail syncing, minor text messages, minor voice calls, web browsing and app usage. More often I can be found whipping the phone open when I hear my email notification going off.

All-in-all I really love my Samsung Vibrant. The only hard part was having to leave AT&T for T-Mobile. I thought about going for the Samsung Captivate but I was a bit disappointed that AT&T took a nazi approach to locking down the OS. They block 3rd party apps by default and right now there really isn’t a ROM for 2.2 that I’d flash to. I was also really annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to keep my $30/mo unlimited data plan that I’ve had since mid-2008. I’d be going for either 200MB or 2GB, neither of which are suitable for my usage. So I’m with T-Mobile right now and just ported over my number. I tried to get CUP-CAKE but all area codes for the area were taken! Oh well, I don’t mind sticking with a number I’ve been using for 8 years now ;).

ilomilo secretly available in XBLA

ilomilo

If you’re into logic/puzzle games, then you should definitely get into ilomilo, an upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game developed by SouthEnd. Want to try it out but don’t see it available in the XBLA Marketplace? That’s because they made a super secret site that will generate a code for you so you can redeem it to gain access to the trial version. And if you enjoy the game enough that you want to buy it then you can do so right from the IloMilo trial itself! The game will run you a very meager 800MSP.

Haven’t heard of ilomilo before? Check out the ilomilo trailer to get a glimpse of the (awesome!) game. The marketplace also has an ilomilo theme you can grab.

WordPress blogger bundle from Appsumo.com

Earlier today I stumbled across a WordPress Blogger Bundle from Appsumo.com and it’s definitely worth the $32 it costs. I’m pretty cheap so I usually opt for the “free account” with services or just stick with open-source if need be. But this is definitely an awesome bundle to look into. The bundled apps value at ~$950 and you get the following:

Appsumo.com

  • Page.ly – 3 months of business hosting ($150 value)
  • BuySellAds – $50 advertiser credit
  • inboxSEO – 6 months ‘Standard’ Plan ($114 value)
  • WooThemes – Unite theme (plus 2 more of your choice)
  • PadPressed – PadPress WordPress Plugin + Theme
  • And eleven other apps/items

I decided to take advantage of the bundle namely for the BuySellAds credit and the WooThemes offer. That’s $32 for what would have been at least ~$120. Not bad!

Pluginless maintenance mode w/ functions.php

I’m always looking for ways to ditch plugins to keep from bloating WordPress even more than I already do ;). I prefer working on a live server so I end up resorting to utilizing .htaccess to allow access to a specified IP addresses only. Using this snippet in functions.php is way easier since it just looks if a user can edit themes and if they’re logged in. Easy peasy!

Toss this into your functions.php file.

// Admin Access Only
function maintenance_mode() {
  if ( !current_user_can( 'edit_themes' ) || !is_user_logged_in() ) {
    die('Maintenance.');
  }
}
add_action('get_header', 'maintenance_mode');

Displaying posts for current day using a query

For the last week I’ve been working on a new project of mine that is a heavily modified calendar theme for WordPress that displays video game releases. The original concept of mine was using an actual calendar but after having some issues with how it displayed (basically just bad UX/UI) I nixed that idea. I decided that I would rather display all current releases for the current day.

So here’s the custom query to display posts for the current day. You can edit the query parameters to be as specific (or general) as you need them to be.

<ul>
<?php
$today = getdate();
query_posts('showposts=-1&post_status=publish,future&year=' .$today["year"] .'&monthnum=' .$today["mon"] .'&day=' .$today["mday"] );
while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
<li><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></li>
<?php endwhile; ?>
</ul>