Monday, November 30, 2009

5 Audio Experiences Toddlers Will Never Have

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As my daughter gets older, there are several audio experiences from my past that she will never get to enjoy.  Below are five audio experiences from my youth she will miss out on.

Recording a song from the radio.  She will never even know what cassette tapes are for that matter.  Now with the ability to just buy the song or snag it from YouTube, she will never have the joy of cursing at the top of her lungs when the DJ talks over the first ten seconds of the song making your recording worthless.
What she will miss out on - listening to hours of commercials and unrelated crappy music to record that cool song onto cassette tape from the radio. 

Vinyl albums.  Last year I asked my class of college freshman if they had ever seen a vinyl record and one students said, "at my grandma's house."  Sadly, the days of vinyl are gone.  I firmly believe that any music recorded on pre-digital media sounds better in vinyl's analog state.  They can digitally remaster all they would like, but in the end, Dark Side of the Moon is always going to sound better on vinyl than on CD.
What she will miss out on - those little pops when the needle hits the record before the first track begins to play.

AM/FM only car stereo.  I remember in high school having to listen to my Walkman through headphones if I wanted to listen to music other than the radio in the car.  Now, and in the future, CD/mp3/Sirius radio's are standard and do not require extra dollars to have them put in. 
What she will miss out on - constantly changing the channel to find that they all seem to be on commercial at the same time.

Sony MiniDisc.  There was a time when Sony's MiniDiscs were going to revolutionize digital recordings and give users the ability to record a CD quality recording.  While an initial surge was present, it died out quickly and now MiniDiscs are for MiniDisc fanboys only.
What she will miss out on - being able to show off to her friends as being the only person in her town to have one.

Walkman/Discman.  I spent the years 1989-2000 with one of these clipped to my pants (or in the winter, in my coat pocket).  Now with iPods and mp3 players, these bulky devices are obsolete.
What she will miss out on - having to carry multiple mix tapes/CDs and spare batteries everywhere she goes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Top 10 Hardest Old School Nintendo Games

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Below, I have rated my top 10 hardest old school Nintendo games that, over the course of the next couple of months, I will make a humble attempt to beat each and every one of them.  Let me know in the comments section if you think I missed something or if I just suck at certain games.  Also, any games you want me to start with.  I will post each time I complete a part of my conquest. 

 1.) Battletoads - If you have ever played it, you know why it is #1.  Hard as hell.  And, with only one player, I better allot a lot of time for this one.

2.) Contra - No 30 live code: Say what you want but without 30 lives, this game is going to be a huge pain.  9 lives total with all continues to beat is going to bring a huge challenge.  The last level in the alien belly - ugh.

3.) Ninja Gaiden (1 or 2): Take your pick, they are both tough as they come - especially the later levels when they throw everything at you during your jumps.  However a stellar game(s) and look forward to putting time towards them unlike Surfer, TMNT, Billy, and Karate Kid.

4.) Silver Surfer:  There are games on this list that I am looking forward to taking the time and getting that nostalgic feel of playing NES games for the fun and the challenge.  This is not going to be one of those games.  Difficult games are fine.  This brings difficulty into the realm of hilarity.  Poor controls.  Poor design.  Not much is going to be fun about this other than watching him fall off his surfboard over, and over, and over, and over again.

5.) Top Gun: C'mon, I really have to land the damn thing and then get gas while in the air. 

6.) Mega Man: I had to pick a Mega Man because they are all tough but I did beat the second one in Junior High so I figured I would go for the first one, it always gave me nightmares.

7.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Stupid respawning enemies and impossible jumps are going to require more than a few shots of Mr. Daniels.  Like Bayou Billy and Karate Kid, an example of a game that is tough because of poor design and horrible control.  Why does it look like I am underwater every time I jump? 

8.) The Adventures of Bayou Billy: One of many Konami games that is tough simply because of its problems with the controls.  In this case sluggish and dull.  Going to be a real pain just to get through the first level.  The driving part I always thought was fun but overall this is going to require a few shots of Mr. Daniels to sit through it.

9.) Karate Kid: This game sucks.  And, it's hard.  It is going to take more patience then anything.  Patience not to harm myself, my NES, or the TV.  Why did LJN make such horrible games?  Did they not do any market research at all?

10.) Castlevania III.  This came out right on the cusp of the 16-bit era and when I sat down with it I had already completed Castlevania and Simon's Quest so I figured it would be a breeze.  When it started kicking my ass, I gave up and went back to Super ThunderBlade on the Genesis and never looked back.  I think I missed out on a good game so I will take this opportunity to go back and reclaim my victory over the Castlevania trilogy on NES.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Add a Song from YouTube into your Music Library

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An easy way to get that song you like (or hard to get a hold of) in your iTunes library can be done simply by grabbing it from YouTube.  If you are crazy about audio quality, stop now and forget that you ever clicked this.  However, if you like radio quality sound, read on. 

1.) Start by going to YouTube and type in the name of the track that you want.

2.) Copy (Control-C) the URL of the song you want.

3.) Go to and paste (Control-V) the URL in the space at the top.

4.) Download the .mp4 to your computer.

5.) Download AoA Audio Extractor here:

6.) Once installed, use AoA Audio Extractor to load the .mp4 file and then extract the music as .mp3.

7.) That's it, you can import into your music library for use.

NOTE: if you want to adjust the sound of the file, may I suggest GoldWave.  It is shareware that allows you to adjust levels, volume, etc.  It is located here:

Friday, November 27, 2009

5 Old/New School Things GeekyClown wants for Christmas - Pt 1

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5.) OLD SCHOOL: AIBO. He was a robotic dog. I may have a real dog but this was a robot. While Sony retired it in 2006, he/she would be a sweet addition under the tree. AI may have been a common fad (Matrix days) but AIBO made it seem like it was possible to have in my own home - like having a Terminator dog but it would be for good instead of just wanting to kill John or Sarah Connor. And, on top of everything else, it would really mess with my dog's mind. Priced on eBay at around $1000.

4.) NEW SCHOOL: MacBook Air. I know that I am generally a Windows guy, but c'mon, this thing is just cool - powerful as hell and just three pounds. The Dell Precision 6300 I am typing this on weighs about five times that and the air is now starting at $1499.

3.) NEW SCHOOL: Droid. I hate the contract that you have to sign for it but it looks like a nice iPhone competitor that Verizon desperately needs. A required $30 addition to your bill for a 5 gig cap on bandwidth doesn't thrill me, but I could talk about my droid like I was in the Star Wars universe, and who doesn't want that? Price: $199.99

2.) OLD SCHOOL: A Turbo-Grafx CD-ROM w/ Y's. Y's book 1 & 2 is/are super old school - great soundtrack, great graphics, fun as hell, and I can't find my old system from '92. I still have a nostalgic recollection of a gentleman explaining to me that, "Genesis is nothing. The Turbo-Grafx IS 16 bit" at Electronics Boutique (now known as EB (like Kentucky Fried Chicken is now known as KFC)). There is a TG-16:CD available on eBay right now for $899 and Y's is currently $33.99. If you are hesitant, just think, the $899 comes with free shipping.

1.) NEW SCHOOL TO BE OLD SCHOOL: A Wii. I am the only person on this planet that doesn't own one. That can't be possible, can it? Priced at: $199.

Monday, November 23, 2009

5 Free Windows Programs I Can't Live Without

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Here are five free programs that I have found helpful to making life just a tiny bit easier. 

Advanced System Care.  This program is the all-in-one system checker to keep your system from giving you headaches.  It can remove spyware, erase your surfing history, clean up your junk files, defragment your hard drive, close security holes, and, my personal favorite, clean-up your registry.  And, there is a free version.

Smart Defrag.  I am not an employee of IObit software so no shameless plug of my own software here, but after using Advanced System Care, I was curious of Smart Defrag and went ahead and downloaded it.  Since there are so many defrag programs out there, I figured having another outside of the built-in Windows defrag wouldn't hurt.  Smart Defrag not only does a good job with defragmentation, offering a straight defrag plus a fast and deep optimize, it also allows itself to load when Windows loads so it is always in the background.  That becomes increasingly important when the system is idle, it begins to work.  If you are like me and have your system on pretty much 24/7, system defrag is always working when you are not on so you never have to worry about a fragmented drive.   Oh, and its free,

Google Chrome.  Internet Explorer comes preloaded with your Windows OS and everyone knows that.  That doesn't mean you have to use it.  This is an on-going debate and I may get some comments disagreeing, but for me, Google Chrome is the best third-party browser.  The FireFox fanboys will be angry.  Now, Chrome doesn't have add-on support (yet) that FireFox does.  However, it makes up for that with speed.  Chrome is hands down the fastest browser available.  Give it a try.  If you don't like it, just remove it.  <drama>It costs you nothing and what you will gain is priceless.</drama>

TweetDeck.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a bit of a social networking fanatic.  Not only is it a part of my job but it helps me to keep up with the rest of the world and even some old friends.  Twitter can be a tough one to get a handle on, especially if you are used to Facebook and MySpace (you don't know how many times, I have been told, "I don't get it").   Yet, once you get your feet wet with it, it is hard to get away from.  TweetDeck gives you a ton of abilities: divide up those you follow into groups; easily retweet, reply, follow users; bridge with Facebook to make your tweets status updates; see what is going on with Twitter and Facebook in the same place.  Using AIR, It works outside the browser so no need for browser support. 
* Also if you are really into Twitter, another site I found that is rather handy is - there you can schedule tweets.

AVG.  When you buy your computer, 9 times out of 10 it will come with an anti-virus software package.  And 10 times out of 10 AVG will be a better solution.  It is lightweight, doesn't bog down the system, works quickly and efficiently, and is free.  If you are using something else (especially if you are paying for monthly protection updates), consider AVG.;mostPopTwoColWrap

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Common Internet Tricks for Beginners

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ielogoWhenever I teach my Introduction to Internet class, these are some of the things that we discuss when using IE (the college's default browser). 

Internet Explorer 6 Users
2001 is over, stop reading now and upgrade your browser!

F6-Control trick
To maneuver from Web page to Web page via Internet Explorer can be done with a little practice and some shortcuts.  Here is how:
* When you are on a Web site - let's say for example and you want to go to another site, you start by pressing F6.  What this will do is highlight the entire address bar.
* Next, if you are going to a .com site, you can simply type in the top domain name and hold down Control and press Enter.  So for example, once we have highlighted, if we type in cnn and hold down Control and press enter, it will put in the http://www and the .com.

Open a link in a new window
You can easily open a link in a new window by holding down shift when clicking the link.

Change font size "on the fly"
You can change Internet Explorer's font size by holding down the Control key and turning the mouse wheel.

Tiling IE Windows
IE 7 & 8 don't default new windows to open in new tabs (which you can easily change in Options), you can tile the Windows.  You can do this by the following:
* When you have multiple Internet Explorer windows (or any Windows programs for that matter) open in the task bar, if you hold down control and right-click a second window, you can choose 'Tile vertically' or 'Tile horizontally'.  In Vista, it is 'Show Windows Stacked' or 'Show Windows Side By Side'.

Close multiple IE Windows at once
You can close multiple windows of the same program at once by doing the following:
* Right-click on the window and choose 'Close Group'.  This will close all of the windows of that particular program.

Searching a particular site
If you know that you will be searching a particular site for information, you can just search that site through your favorite search engine.  For example, if you wanted to search just for tech information you can do so by doing the following:
* Go to your favorite search engine, I will use Yahoo! in this example.  Type in the search bar site:NAMEOFDOMAIN SEARCH QUERY.  So in this example, I will do printer drivers
Notice the spaces, no space between the : and the domain name and a space after the .com/.net/.org etc.

Full-screen mode
You can toggle to and from full-screen mode in Internet Explorer by hitting F-11.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

10 Reasons Hanging Out at Home with my NES is Cooler than Watching Edward Cullen

I am like many men in the world who was forced to succumb to the first Twilight movie.  The new movie came out this weekend and is already breaking box office records.  I happily got out of seeing the second one.  I spent my time playing NES - like any red blooded American, male should.   Here are my ten reasons hanging out at home with my NES is cooler than watching Edward Cullen.

10.)  My NES has no sensitive side.  When playing the NES, frustration builds, there is no secret to anyone that knows me that some games can bring out my inner demon.  Yet, no matter how frustrated I get and how hard I throw the controller, slam it into the ground, drop kick the system, it keeps ticking.  While Edward is busy crying in the woods - the NES is getting ready to play another game of Castlevania even after I just bounced the controller off the wall and dropped the system from four feet in the air. 

9.)  He can't handle Mike Tyson.  Does anyone believe Cullen would stand a chance against Mike Tyson.  He had a hard time taking care of Volchok from The O.C., does he really think he has a chance again Tyson. 

8.) Bases Loaded.  Like I said in the introduction, I saw the first film.  There is a scene where all the vampires go out and play baseball.  And I think that's great, America's past time should be open to all imaginary creatures.  However, even though they can fly through the air to make amazing catches and be able to hit the ball farther than any human, I can play Bases Loaded on my NES.  I can throw unbelievable curve balls in Bases Loaded.  I can crush all competition with Jersey and hit the ball out of the park pretty much every time with Ryder and Bay.  The Cullen family even with their "special" powers wouldn't stand a chance against Jersey.  No team could.

7.) I can turn my NES into anything.  Edward Cullen is a vampire.  That is it.  My NES can be converted into just about anything.  Do a Google search for NES mods and you will see dozens of options of things you can do with your NES.  You can take out the hardware and make it portable.  You can turn the controller into an MP3 player.  Just a vampire, what a joke.

6.) Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start.  There aren't 30 Cullens.

5.) You can humiliate your friends with your NES.  Mr. Sensitive didn't leave any room for competition.  He didn't make Bella fight for him at all.  That is so anti-NES.  With the NES, if you want to win someone's respect and affection, you need to make them cry.  You have to get your fourth interception returned for a touchdown with Mike Singletary in Tecmo Bowl.  That is how you truly earn someone's respect.  He can stop a car and then introduce her to his vampire family but he can't run Bo Jackson up the middle over and over again while his best friend threatens his life if he does it again.    If he did, he wouldn't even need to worry about the dude that turns into a wolf in the second movie.

4.)  My NES has a Super Successor.  There is no Super Cullen.  There is a Super NES.  All of the fun of the original with more power. 
*Note: I do think a Super Cullen could be cool and make me actually want to see the second movie, just as long as the super part doesn't involve more hair gel.

3.) My NES can handle sunlight.  The NES will not start glowing and get all glittery in the sun.  Maybe if you are talking some of that Arizona 110 degree days then who knows - any time it is over 105 degree, some crazy things can happen.  But, here in the Midwest, if I have a real urge to sit out in a lawn chair with a TV, my NES, and a beer on a nice, sunny day - I can do it without worries. 

2.)  The NES saved an industry.  That is great the Cullen saved her throughout the movie - the NES saved the entire video game industry.  After E.T. tore it down, the NES was there to save it. Just one person, that is just plain lazy. 

1.) My NES has a gun and a robot.  Sure he can stop a moving car with his bare hands and climb a tree with someone on his back in seconds flat, but does he have a gun?  A robot?  That's what I thought.  Case closed.