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Kaylee: 5 years of running

In 8 days, my daughter will change from being a 4-year-old punk into a 5-year-old punk.  That kid can be exhausting.  But she does it with style!

More Forhan family news...

I've reworked the muddyhorse.com web site to include our own weblog with news and happenings.  I'll still post some stuff here, but you'll get everything over there.

Favorite Sci-fi books

I posted this over at IGN, but I wanted to preserve the content here. To that end, here are some of my favorite science fictionbooks.

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ObjectDock: Gorgeous, but useless...

ObjectDock is a free Windows TaskBar replacement, sort of.  You can look at the screenshots to get a feel for what it looks like.  It's not exactly fair to call it a TaskBar replacement, it is trying more to be a launch bar, and a host for small dock applets, like a weather widget, email notificaiton, etc.  MacOS X has something similar, Google Desktop is similar.

And OD is just darn pretty, which smooth-scaling icons and fun effects.  It can list icons for running apps, keep screenshots of them when they are minimized, etc.

The problem?  It doesn't actually do anything.  It feels like a fancy multimedia keyboard, with buttons to launch all the apps you'll ever need (you know, those buttons you never use?).  The weather widget, the coolest looking feature, doesn't know how to use a network proxy, so it can't be used behind a corporate firewall.  And unless you pay $20 for the Plus version, it can't even suffice as a taskbar replacement, since it cannot host your System Tray.  It also doesn't ship with a digital clock, so there is no quick way to glance at the time.

It is meant to be a widget hosting enviroment, to be fair, and I didn't download any additional widgets.  But it sounds like work to me to get software I don't really need to do the bare minimum.

The thing can run just fine side-by-side with your taskbar, but of course that's extra screen real estate you are losing.

So, in the end, it is a very pretty piece of software, does exactly what it says it will do, and does it well.  But, for me, it just doesn't do enough.

Movie Review: Juno

Juno is a fabulous movie, clever dialog and real depth to characters.  I don't want to say too much about it, as I can't do it justice.  A great soundtrack and songs accompany us through the journey.

There are some instances of language, and, as anyone who's seen the previews will know, the lead character is a pregnant teen.  But the movie has a tinge of realism to it, and smartly deals with a lot of issues facing teenagers.  I joked with Jodi that any teens that went to the show may have learned some lessons, likely against their will.

Pat's Rating system:

  • How much would I pay for the movie? I would be willing to pay theater/popcorn prices to see this again, so let's say $15-20 or so.  I'd probably buy the DVD too.
  • How many times would I rewatch it?  I'd be more than happy to see this in the theaters again.

Game Review: N+

N+ is the new hotness on XBox Live Arcade, created by metanet software as a sequel to their flash game, N.  Lauded as a paragon of substance over style, it is a hit with game reviewers all over.  It has a laughably small download size: 13MB. 

The game prizes control and level design over fluff like graphics.  The biggest problem with the game is that the control feels heavy, and the level design is tedious.

Obviously, they're trying to make it feel "physics-y", where the character has weight and momentum, but it only occaisonally comes off that way.  If you aren't making a gloriously long leap after a run, the character just feels sluggish.

As to the level design, I have to admit that I was only playing the demo, and there are something like 200 levels in the full game.  But they were often merely passable, not clever.  When I see a long corridor of 40 deathtraps that I have jump one by one, stopping each time, I am not enjoying it.  And when I die halfway down that hallway, I'm not only not buying the game, I'm deleting it.

N+, you're just going to have to try a bit harder in the fun department. 

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Pat's Rating system:

  • How much would I pay for the game? Maybe $3-5, if I'm bored.
  • How many times would I replay it? Do I really have to finish it?  It has people hooked, but I just can't see myself trying the same level over and over again like I can with Puzzle Quest.  Multiplayer is supposed to be fun, but that's not enough justification.

Pat's Favorite FireFox Extensions

Here are all of the best Firefox Extensions I use. I do stay on Firefox 1.5 for most of my browsers, so some of these may not be available for 2.0 and greater. These are presented roughly in the order of how often I use them.

 

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Hello and welcome!

Just a short time ago, geologically speaking, our little friend Eric was born.  He was the runt of the litter, but grew up hale and hearty.  Always good with children, the family thrived under his constant care, supervision and carefully planned destruction of toys of his younger siblings.  He was bestowed the title of Monkey Extrodinaire a short few years ago.

 

Happy Birthday, Eric!

 

Pat. 

Fun links...

I just wanted to share a couple of nice links I came across yesterday:

 

General links:

Fight for Kisses: A great video with high quality animation (reminds me of Shrek, actually) for... a razor.

 

Nerd links:

The Nerd Handbook: How a nerd's brain works, and Care and Feeding

White and Nerdy: a music video to go along with the above

All about the Pentiums: okay, this is older, but great & nerdy itself

Game Review: Super Paper Mario

Super Paper Mario is almost a good game.  It has clever puzzle, excellent control, and a wide variety of levels.  But it also has tedious dialog, annoying restrictions, and a lot of menu work for what is essentially an action game.

The Paper Mario series started out as a cute, stylized sequel to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.  It took RPG-like elements, experience points, progression, inventory, etc and merged them with a paper cut-out look and feel.  Houses would stand up and fold around you as you walked in, and several of Mario's powers involved him being folded in different ways.

The papery gimmicks are still around, but much of the RPG qualities were dropped for this version. But all the dialog remained!  Some of it was cute and clever, but in the end it got tiresome. 

You have an inventory, still, that you barely ever use.  In fact, it just fills up and becomes annoying. You can store items at certain locations for later retreval, but why?  You really only need health items.

Finally, the levels get kind of tiresome.  Once you get the idea or hook of the level, expect to rinse and repeat at least 4 more times in coming levels.

It was generally fun, and there was a good variety of situations, but it just didn't all come together in the end.

Best moment:  The introduction to Fracktail, the first big boss fight: video

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Pat's Rating system:

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