Paraphernalia rebate from Microsoft

In support of their Live Search search engine Microsoft has unveiled a program where one can get cash back for making purchases online after finding them with Live Search.

I don’t typically use Live Search, so I heard of this program through my favorite hot deals website. They recommend using Ebay in conjunction to Live Search to get up to 35% cash back on qualifying purchases, and quite reasonably note that it’s best to use this rebate for big ticket items like Playstation 3s and Wiis.

I’d like to offer an alternate strategy: were one so inclined, apparently one can also get the rebate for purchasing an industry standard, very expensive Storz & Bickel Volcano vaporizer. If only this deal had come along in my younger, more rambunctious days…


Don’t miss out on your $188.65 rebate from Microsoft for this qualifying purchase!

Portal

In my previous post about Half-Life 2, Andres asked about Portal. I played it this week.

The gimmick is instead of a weapon that does damage you’ve got a gun that shoots an orange and a blue portal. The orange portal connects to the blue portal, so you can do things like walk through walls to go across rooms or fall long distances through portals and conserve your momentum to fly out the other side like Superboy.

The game is short, but I think that’s the way it had to be, because none of the challenges was particularly hard and there’s only so many ways I can envision setting up puzzles with the Portal gun as the only way for the player to interact with them. I probably got six or seven hours out of this game and I don’t know how I could possibly get much more. There are ‘advanced’ levels that become unlocked upon beating the game; maybe I’ll take a look at those.

The gameplay is definitely innovative, but I found myself really wishing for a real gun like I’d have in Half-Life at many points–not because I needed it, but because I wanted to drop a cap in something all aggressive-like. The game looks just like Half-Life 2, so I’m sure that colored my perception there… I found it strange to be running around and not dodging zombines or antlions.

There has been a lot said about how clever and funny Portal is. I didn’t really find that to be true. There were funny parts but I wasn’t LOLing about much that computer voice GLaDOS was telling me while I was working my way through the game.

In this article about the Old Man Murray guys working on Portal there’s an interesting quote about Portal and Half-Life existing in the same universe and intertwining in the future–indeed (spoiler alert, I guess) Aperture Laboratories is mentioned in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and Black Mesa is mentioned in Portal, so that’s got to be where things are headed. If I can use the Portal gun and real shoots-bullets guns in the same game, I can’t imagine where the difficulty is going to come from… just shoot a portal behind a bad guy, shoot one safely behind cover, change weapon to something that does damage, and shoot the dude in the back. I’ll be really interested to see how the Valve folks work this out.

Three Pochaccos due to my really high expectations not entirely being met.

Update: I had no idea Mike Patton of Faith No More was in this game. And here’s a download site for “Still Alive”, the song that plays over the credits, which is pretty cool.

Half-Life 2 Re-Review

Did I tell you that I got a badass new computer a couple of months ago? I’m now able to play video games of more recent vintage than Diablo II for the first time in years.

I got the Orange Box and re-played Half-Life 2 and both Episodes, which took me about a month because I don’t get a lot of free time to blow on video games lately for some reason. I wanted to update my moldy old Half-Life 2 review with some additional information.

* I previously owned Half-Life 2, obviously, and got the Orange Box because I’m a lazy sack and wanted to get all the episodes and Portal without tracking down my old game (which I gave to Woody anyway). I figured when I installed the games Valve’s Steam system would say “ha ha, thanks for buying multiple copies of the same game dummy” if it remembered that I had the games previously at all, but instead it gave me credit for two copies of HL2 and offered to allow me to send one to a friend. I was originally very skeptical of Steam but this is really cool!

* The graphics in this game are awesome. When I previously played it I was plumbing the limits of my hardware; now I can play it at highest res and still get good framerate and no glitching and I enjoyed it.

* I pumped up the difficulty this time around and died more often as a result. That’s a good tip for you l33t gamerz like myself.

* I still thought the end of HL2 was a little more like a cutscene than a playable video game. That’s really my only complaint. The episodes were very fun, and I enjoyed the gameplay a lot more than I remember the first time around.

Five Pochaccos, Valve. Excellent job. I can’t wait for Episode Three!

Post-publication edit: I can’t believe I forgot this one… I live and work near Miramar, and they’ve got those big two-prop cargo choppers that fly around on a regular basis. Lately I’ve left my building at work or the house and heard a couple of those things whomping around, and I’ve reached for my laser-guided RPG to take them down–not because I hate the Marines or America but because I’m so used to blowing up the gunships in Half-Life 2.

A World Without Nachos

You probably know that John McCain was born during the Great Depression and will, if elected President, be the oldest person to take that office and chase kids off the White House lawn during the annual Easter Egg Roll.   But have you considered that John McCain had to live the first seven years of his life without even the possibility of being served nachos, because they hadn’t yet been invented?  So certainly, between that and being imprisoned in Vietnam, the man has endured more hardship than I could handle.

Also, I have recently discovered that you should not read about nachos when you are dieting.  Damn you Ignacio Anaya!