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Thursday, October 14, 2010

"UFOs" over NYC October 13, 2010

Video shot from Midtown Manhattan of the "UFOs" over NYC October 13, 2010 at around 11am

Xbox Live Arcade today

Xbox Live Arcade today: Sonic 4, Dead Space Ignition and Alan Wake: The Writer
The sequel fans have waited 16 years for is finally here:




Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I! Featuring enhanced gameplay elements including the classic Sonic Spin Dash and the versatile Homing Attack, Sonic 4 picks up right where Sonic and Knuckles left off. Dr. Eggman’s back, and in an effort to finally rid himself of Sonic, he revisits and improves the very best of his creations. Get ready for the next chapter in an all new epic 2-D saga built for old and new fans alike.
Also available today is EA’s Dead Space Ignition on Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360. Dead Space Ignition will be available worldwide for 400 Microsoft Points (that’s US$5 / €4.80 / £3.40 / CAN$6.20 / AU$6.60).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Guide Buying a New Car

Buying a used car is one of those things where you can either make out like a bandit, or get royally worked over. As the owner of a previous owned vehicle myself, and a person who comes from a long bloodline of used car owners, the advice I have is based on both my own experiences and that of my family, and this information is practically encoded in my DNA.

Price Matters It seems like there is a vortex for used car value, a Bermuda triangle of car-price-to-quality ratio, if you will. You should buy a used car that is either less than $2,000 or more than $6,000. If you are buying a car in this zone, buyer beware. A car worth less than $2,000 is ok because if you ever run into major repair costs, you just walk away from the car and start over with the next $2,000 car. A car worth over $6,000 is ok too, because it is usually going to be worth the cost of most repairs. Cars that fall between $2,000 and $6,000 range that run into major repairs, all of a sudden can have $2-3 thousand tied up in repair work, and at that point you might as well have spent the extra dough to get the $6,000 car.

Looks Should Not Matter It may sound crazy, but some of the best functioning used cars I have seen people buy have also been the most decrepit looking. If you really want value in a used car, the best way to get it is to sacrifice on the appearance of the car. Think about it, if a car looks great, why is such a steal? Well, the seller may know about some pending doom about to befall the car, and is getting out from under it while there is still time. On the other hand, the beat-up old junker’s owner is usually going to be a straight shooter, since a person who is willing to drive such a shabby automobile obviously has little or no pretense. If you can swallow your pride and give a little love to a clunker, you might be rewarded.

Pros and Cons of Buying From Family I bought a 1973 Buick Centurion from my grandfather for $500 to drive for a summer while I was home from college. It was a great deal cause it only had 63,000 miles on it, and I got it for what my grandfather had paid for it. After returning to college back East, my parents burned up their 1980’s Ford Econoline Van, and they ended up buying my Buick from me. I got the same $500 bucks for it. That is the upside of dealing with family. A lot of the time you can get a really fair shake. The downside, now, is that you are in proximity to your former wheels even though you have no control over the car, and despite the fact that you might have some emotional attachment. I had to watch as my beautiful green boat of a car was subjected to abuse. It was not regularly washed or vacuumed. Then my little brother drove it into a cement post and totally crunched in the side of the car that until that point had been impressively straight given the mint of the car.

Eventually, The Depreciation of Cars Reaches an Asymptote Once a car reaches a certain price it can’t really go any lower. If you buy a really cheap car, let’s say you get one for $100 bucks (which my brother did just last year), if you decide to sell it your odds of getting $100 bucks back out of it are pretty good.

Be Careful when buying a used car. And just remember that buying a used car is like taking a toss of the dice, which does not mean you should buy a used car in Las Vegas. It means that it is a bit risky!


by Cameron Hatch

The Modern CornMan

The Modern Conman Collection is an entertaining collection of "how to's" for those interested in petty tricks and subtle human manipulation. Volume one features a couple of no-lose (for the perpetrator) and no-win (for the mark) card games, bar games, challenges and plays on words involving definitional splitting of hairs.

Even for the curious among us who would never actually use any of these tricks this engaging DVD will amuse you for the full run of the video (roughly one half hour). With the no risk trial (you just pay shipping for the first DVD, which is free, and cancel before the second volume comes) you can't lose.

Todd Robbins prefaces the video with the advice that you try these scams on family and friends before trying it on strangers. He also advises you to be careful in how you present these scams (if you are too arrogant or showy you can really make people made).

DVD Cons: The Modern Conman
The scams are relatively simple. After watching the video only once I was able to duplicate two of the scams with no problem. I tried both of these scams on my wife. I was a little too smug with my presentation (going against Todd's advice), which she found very annoying. One trick was a card game, and the other was a game using match sticks. Both were set up so that I could not lose. The trick is getting the other person fooled into thinking the game is legit and that there is a chance for them to win.

Afterward, I tried the match stick game on my wife's eight year-old cousin. She had no problem believing that there was at least some chance that she could win the game, though I don't think that had much to do with my skill at trickery (or lack thereof).

The mechanics of behind the card games and the match trick especially are so simple and yet intriguing. Logic and math oriented types will surely enjoy that aspect of the video.

All that being said about the substance, let's talk a little about the marketing. This video is really heavily marketed toward single men in their twenties. It could play equally well among frat house audiences and recent college grads entering their first jobs. The cover of the DVD (and the website built to market the DVD series) features images of beautiful women, cards, and booze. These same things make appearances in the video once you play the DVD, but as with any good trick, these are merely misdirection to get you to buy into the gimmick, not at all integral to the core substance of the DVD. (For those hoping only to find images of drunken girls stammering around drunk and losing all their money at the card table, let me give you a big head's up. You will be disappointed big time with the Modern Conman Collection Volume 1. Conversely, women worried about portrayals of young ladies being exploited for commercial gain, you can put your mind at ease, because this DVD is free from any of that stuff.) The fact of the matter is that taken out of the bar-room setting and into the back-yard of family home, many of these tricks could play equally well to the crowd at a little kid's birthday party.

Final analysis: The fact of the matter is that people love tricks, from the biggest magic displays on down. And the Modern Conman Collection: Volume 1 Starring Todd Robbins has just the right mix of magic.

Final Grade: Final Grade an A-/A, awarded with a smile

Monday, June 29, 2009

Get Paid To Drive Your Car, Wear T-Shirt and more

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