Wacom Bamboo Pen Review

7 10 2010

The Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet is, for the money, a great little tablet.  I picked mine up off of Amazon.com for just over $60.00 to help with my web design, and have not regretted my purchase one bit.  With a modest 5.8″ x 3.6″ active writing surface, it is rather responsive.  The matte area has a similar feeling to writing on actual paper, which will help with the authenticity of your documents.  That doesn’t mean that if you are not accustomed to using tablets, there will be a bit of an adjustment period before you can write legible sentences if you like to have fun with Windows Journal.

The Pen that comes with the tablet is a bit light, but still fits rather ergonomically in your hand.  The two buttons that reflect you mouse are not very intrusive of your comfort, and can begin to feel pretty natural after some regular use.  The action of tapping your tablet twice rather than good ‘ol double click is fun as well.  With a price tag of $79.99 on Wacom.com, this is an entry level tablet, for people who are either interested in using a tablet for mediocre tasks, or those of us who just don’t have a spare $300-$500 to drop on a more industry standard tablet.  When you keep that in mind, you will get just what you expect from this product.

My Bamboo came with Corel Painter Essentials, which is an excellent program for getting an idea of just what you can accomplish.  When you move into the more advanced programs, a.k.a Photoshop, or my preferred GIMP, you may notice a bit of a lag from the tablet due to hardware constraints and software usage.  You definitely will not receive a perfectly clean air-brush motion when working on some of your larger files.  This is due to the lack of sensors that come with the Entry Level Pen tablet.

Based on sheer looks the Pen Tablet will make a sexy addition to most desk set ups, and many people who aren’t accustomed to seeing them will comment.  College students will like the option of being able to take notes in class, on your laptop screen, and save them for a later date without the fear of lost torn or crumpled pages.  Or you could just doodle during class as well, whatever your into.  It has a nice shiny trim around the writing surface which can easily collect dust if you don’t wipe it regularly.  It weighs a measly 1.8 pounds, so you won’t really notice the weight in your backpack or briefcase.  The pen itself does not require batteries to run, which is a relief, and comes with two spare tips to replace the original when it gets worn.

All in all the Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet is a great product for its target market.  Wacom is a trusted name in the industry, and the quality is noticed in the Pen Tablet.  If you are someone interested in toying with these fun tools, but don’t want to drop too much to experience it, go with this one.  You get your money’s worth, and then some!


Why Having Your Own Website Can Be Essential

7 10 2010

In today’s professional world, having an online presence is something can only help to portray you appropriately in the professional world.  It is a way to start the ‘Business of You’.  The great thing is that in today’s day and age, with all of the online resources available to us, the ability to achieve this seemingly daunting task is much easier than most people think.

First let us cover some of the reasons why this tool can be helpful both personally and professionally.  When done right, a website that acts as an online portfolio/resume can do much to simplify the channels that people have to go through to receive detailed information about your professional life.  You can include hobbies, interests, and anything else you may find applicable.  Sure your Facebook or MySpace page will touch on these, but having the creative control over the design, and how people ingest the information you are deciding to share with the masses.

The great thing about running the ‘Business of You’ is that you can begin to incorporate a business, or entrepreneurial mindset to the way you approach searching for, or applying to jobs.  Not to mention the confidence one can have when you walk into an interview and hand over a Resume, with an attached business card which has the address to your website.  Once there your ‘client'(employer) may search extended info on you.  They could download a PDF of your resume, follow links to some of the other companies you have worked for, and SHOW superiors what makes your professionalism more valuable than the other 500 people who applied without their own webpage.

You have to understand that business standards are starting to expect employees to have at least a Facebook page when considering employment.  With the added dimension that this adds for, you should be prepared to go beyond this by offering even more.  This added responsibility on your behalf can be taken to the next level with your personal website.  It can be done on one page with a simple layout, or five pages with music and photo galleries.  Whatever the career path or lifestyle being focused on, your website will capture and accentuate all the best parts!

One thing many people think is that it is expensive to start a web page, confusing, and something you need to pay thousands in order to tackle.  Truth be told, there are website design companies out there, a.k.a. wix.com that allow you to very simply and easily (or involved and creatively) design and publish your own webpage with a ton of options, and a beautiful interface. if you wanted to have your own domain name, such as http://www.johnsmith.com, just head on over to GoDaddy.com and purchase your domain for around $10.00 for the year.  Or you could by a .info instead of .com and pay about $2.00 for the year.

All it takes is a bit of time and commitment, but when all is said and done, the sense of approval and satisfaction you will feel balances out the time and bit of money spent to get you up and running.  Companies like Wix have a wealth of help and support in order to get you up and running, and there is always Google for those questions that you just can’t seem to get answered.  What are you waiting for, get out there and start building!



Halo: Reach Review

7 10 2010

Ahhh, well just what we have all been waiting for. Another installment in the Halo Universe. All fans take a moment of silence to pay respects to those who have bestowed this moment upon us, and smile.

Now, with that out of the way, let us tour the fun and inviting world that Bungie has created for us in this, their last installment in the Halo Universe. This, of course, being due to the licensing issues with Bungie being owned by Activision now. (Can anyone say Bungie: Call of Duty: Future War?) The sense of parting that Bungie has left us with in this game can be felt in just about every nook and cranny. There are endless hours of entertainment with a fun and engrossing Campaign, addictive and competitive Multiplayer, relentless Firefight, and the grossly immersive Forge, Notably redesigned for Halo: Reach.

The Halo: Reach campaign starts out with your Squad, Noble Team, being assigned to locating some missing troopers in a nearby village. Your team will be airlifted in and shortly after find out that, just as with everything in the Halo Universe, the troopers are dead and the Covenant are behind it. What starts out in the first couple of missions as a bunch of small skirmishes, eventually plumes into all out war, with some very impressive scenes involving some very heavy duty action.

The AI has been impressively revamped for Reach, with some pretty noticeable enhancements. Many an Elite has made me learn that you can no longer run into a group of enemies and trust in melee. Their movements are swift, smooth, and rather intelligent. The heroic difficulty gave me more to work for in Reach than Halo 3 by far, and forget about Legendary. There is a 150GP award for completing legendary on your own, and justly so. You can expect to log around 10 to 12 hours into the campaign, depending what difficulty you play on.

Halo’s signature Multiplayer is there as well, in all of its glory, there to eat away at hours of your life, and frustrate you beyond all repair. The credit system used in Reach (cR’s) to enable you to rank up is a fun addition, with a lot of great rewards for your time and efforts. You earn cR’s in all game modes of Reach, plus the daily and weekly challenges sponsored by Bungie which assign you to different tasks in Reach to gain bonus cR’s, as well as keep you involved in the many different types of the game.

The scope of Halo: Reach was large, and Bungie did a great job of bringing their vision to life in the constraints that they faced. I feel as though the the graphics was a bit compromised to allow for more room in the game. The water effects are rather poor, and some of the scenes happening in the distance have a much different feel than other Halo games. When you zoom in on an enemy, sometimes it will look a bit like the enemy and the ground its on do not mesh how they should. This is the first time I have experienced this in a Halo game, and I attribute it to short comings in the hardware.

In order to keep this brief, I will close by saying that with everything Bungie lovingly packed into this game for us, this game is another winner that belongs on the shelf of any Halo fan out there. There are plenty of hours to be lost in this final installment of the Halo that we have come to know and love in the past decade (Halo Wars Excluded). Wrap your hands lovingly around your controller, and start fragging, cause before you know it, this game will be history.

iPad Uses

26 04 2010

iPad Uses

Bad Company 2 Multiplayer Review

9 03 2010

Being the FPS freak that I am, only the best and the brightest cross my desk. I have pretty high standards since I have been playing my games religiously for almost 20 years now (Damn it has been a while). With that said, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is %$#*!@$ awesome! I have to admit, my first round online took a bit getting used to, what with having been programmed on a strict regimen of Call of Duty. The controls almost felt sluggish, and the graphics seemed almost alien. But once I amped up my sensitivity, through on some headphones, and got down to the nitty-gritty, this game has got me hook, line and sinker.

You do have to keep in mind when playing BC 2 that the audio really brings this game to life. And once you get into the game, and see just how much it has to offer, its really nothing short of amazing the guys over at DICE really put a lot of work into cramming this game with all they could. Sure, the levels are completely destructible, no more pesky frames lingering around battle charred levels. Oh no, you can bring that sucker straight to the ground. And hopefully killing some enemies in the chaos. And there will be plenty of them. 24 players are allowed to traverse the very large levels laid out in front you.

The vehicles, the absolute creme de la creme of the whole situation, are fantastic. The level of detail, realism, and upgrades that have gone into the vehicles makes them a load of fun to drive, and shoot at. The controls are smooth, and its a heck of a lot better than running across the level to the objectives.

Speaking of, there are three different objectives you can pick from for your online experience. You have good old fashioned conquest, hold two of the three flags as long as you can till you win. Rush mode was brought back, where you work your way across a map, destroying two enemy comm boxes at a time. And the new addition, Squad Deathmatch. This option loads into a game of 4 squads, each squad containing 4 guys. All four squads duke it out on the level, first team with the most kills wins. It can turn pretty chaotic, and definitely has a unique feel to it.

In case you were wondering, yes, you do get to customize just about every aspect of your classes. As you work your way through the ranks, you slowly unlock different additions to your soldier, your weapons, behavioral perks, and new weapons. You can also level up your vehicle behaviors, separately from your soldier and weapons. One major difference between Battlefield and, say, Call of Duty is that you don’t rank up nearly as fast. I have had the game for two full days, and I am only at level 7. That’s after almost 15 hours of logged game time. So expect to be working on your soldier for a while!

All of your classes are case specific, meaning if you are playing as an engineer, you only upgrade your engineer class. It’s a lot of incentive to mix up what classes your using. You’ve got your Red Dot sight, the 4x Scope, aka the ACOG scope. There’s a 12x zoom to unlock for the sniper class, for those extra long shots. I don’t want to spoil too much for you, just know theres a lot of goodies to unlock, and plenty of time to do it in.

All in all, its just nice to see Battlefield back on the charts, with another quality game to waste more pointless hours of our lives. If you have the cash, I highly suggest picking this game up, and giving it a whirl. If nothing else, it is much more than a great break from Call of Duty, at least until they finally release a Map Pack. Next stop, Halo Reach Beta!

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Tips Part 2

1 03 2010

Well here we are for my second installment of CoD:MW2 Multiplayer tips. Last issue we covered speed, perks, and controlling the skies with whatever anti-air you have available. This time around, we are going to get a bit more specific, and start breaking down specific styles of playing. As most FPS games, namely Team Fortress, you have specific classes to use as titles for your soldier. The ever elusive sniper, The balls-to-the-wall Heavy Soldier, the general Assault Soldier, your Swiss Army Knife on the battlefield, and the quick and silenced Recon genre. Everyone has their personal favorites, but all of them have their advantages.

One thing you can’t neglect is just how the developers level design went into creating a certain pace for every game. If your like me, and pro dominantly play Ground War, or simply have a preference of Deathmatch and Domination game types, you will be able to connect with me a bit more on just how to navigate the levels to accomplish your goals on the battlefield.

This issue we will be focusing on snipers. One thing you cannot forget is just how friendly this game is to snipers. Given enough time to search the levels, there is a pleasant little sniper perch placed around on each one. Some levels more numerous than others. Afghan, Estate, Derail are all aimed in favor of the long sight lines, and open area movement that really becomes a snipers breeding ground.

Afghan has lots of great hiding spots with long sight lines

Derail has a great abundance of places to hide, but foot traffic can take a while to get to you

Estate is a difficult level. Almost nowhere is safe, and you always have to watch your back

It takes a lot of patience to be an effective sniper. It is most definitely not for everybody, but if you are willing to take the time to master the skill, its benefits will start to seep into the rest of your playing. Once you know not to rush yourself around those corners, or start finding your own little hiding spots in the levels that give just a bit more of an edge in the battlefield, suddenly you’ll start watching your K/D ratio start shooting way up.

My play style was, for the longest time, very rushed, and I would just try to muscle my way through doorways with lots of explosions. Sure this can be effective from time to time, but averagely it will take a few try’s and a couple of extra deaths to figure out where people are and how to make it through, or around. Sniping really changed how I approached playing, and makes your behavior a little more sly on the battlefield. Then when you start playing levels like Skidrow, Invasion, or Karachi, your gonna start finding new and better places to take advantage of the battle waging in front of you.

Skidrow has a couple of really serious choke points that you have to approach the right way, or you'll never get through.

The only place I ever really feel comfortable in this level is in the Bus Stop, or the Rooftops adjacent to it

Once you get into the center of this city block, there are so many doorways and windows that next to nowhere feels safe.

Your best bet to pick up sniping quicker is to take notes on how other talented snipers play. Use your killcam to see where they are, if you can. Follow someone around and see how consistently they can find spots that reduce exposure, cut down on angles they have to monitor, and placed around areas of heavy traffic. Its not until I started sniping regularly (right now I have three classes dedicated to the Intervention alone) that I started having consistent games where I am hitting 3:1, 5:1 or even 8:1 k/d ratios regularly. Especially considering that since you aren’t always running balls deep into a firefight, your length of life increases ten-fold. Plus, you get to use your Killstreak Rewards a lot more!

Credit or Debit?

2 02 2010

If you are currently in a debacle involving your credit, and you need a way to electronically pay for items, then a debit card is going to be the only resource for you to do so. If you are a person that has the drive and self-discipline to make sound financial decisions, then credit is the solution by far. Why? Because of the risk you take with credit, there is also the potential of specific returns you recieve with credit programs, that you dont recieve with debit. At the end of the day, debit is your money, credit is not. Lets take a brief look at each style of spending, and see what they consist of.

Debit is an electronic way of spending your own money. Your card may be backed by a major credit company, but it is only your funds which are effected by the transaction. If you are purchasing something that is $50.00, and you only have $49.00 available in your checking account, you will not be authorized the make the transaction (unless you have an overdraft protection or savings account link). With credit, you will be allowed to overdraft your checking account without a moments notice, and then have to reap the consequences later on.

With that extra risk, which isn’t a risk at all if you manage your money well, you also gain many perks with a credit card you just don’t receive with a debit card. Whether you are on a points program, or a miles bonus, you will get certain kick-backs from your credit provider for using their service. Many of these perks can really add up, and make a substantial difference in how you make your money work for you. Why keep your money in a Checking account when you can keep what you need for life and bills in checking, and put the rest in a savings or money market account, earning some form of interest.

When you start working to find the type of credit deals that fit your life, you can begin utilizing some very lucrative offers, and start making a difference in your financial picture today. Credit begets credit, and in today’s society, there is no realistic way to run from it. If your credit picture isn’t very clean, it’s better to start tidying it up with a positive track record, than run from it. One way of running from it is by using strictly debit. It will only be a matter of time before you go to get that nice new TV, shiny new car, or sizable home loan, and you wind up wishing you hadn’t been using debit all along.