Coffee Talk #500: EA vs. the Westboro Baptist Church

I love that EA, Microsoft and Zynga are supporting gay marriage by taking a stand against the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s a decision that will make many of their employees happy, but it’s also one that could cost each company business. While many people believe that marriage is an institution that everyone should be…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the disgusting Colorado shooting at The Dark Knight Rises premiere, Verve’s Ethiopia Haile, or Google purchasing the excellent creators of the excellent Sparrow Mail, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

I love that EA, Microsoft and Zynga are supporting gay marriage by taking a stand against the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s a decision that will make many of their employees happy, but it’s also one that could cost each company business. While many people believe that marriage is an institution that everyone should be allowed to suffer enjoy, there are those that believe it should only be between a man and a woman.

The Westboro Baptist Church immediately popped into my head as I was reading EA’s blog post stating the company’s opposition to DoMA. That church hates gay people and loves protests. Its members took the time to protest Kevin Smith’s Red State, a movie that was seen in theaters by like 12 people. Imagine what they would do to companies that serve millions with their products?!?

I can see those nuts trying to organize a boycott of EA games, Microsoft consoles, Zynga titles, etc. I can see these idiots holding up signs that say, “Need For Speed…Speeding Up the Death of Fags!!!”, “God Hates Xbox, Loves PS3!!!”, and, “Words With Straight Friends Only!!!”.  These people are horrible and stupid, but they’re also loud and active. I’m certain that a group like the Westboro Baptist Church will try to hurt videogame companies that are anti-DoMA.

What do you think of EA, Microsoft, and Zynga supporting gay marriage? Do you think it will cost them business?

Coffee Talk #499: The Ouya Backlash

Last week, the Ouya console made a huge splash in the gaming world. The company behind Ouya has raised more than $5,000,000 on Kickstarter in nine days. That’s simply remarkable. The initial reactions were overly positive. I’ve read so many articles on how this machine is going to “save” console gaming, patch the ozone…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the end of Linsanity in New York, Rex Ryan losing 106 pounds, or Rafael Nadal skipping the Olympics due to injuries (ha ha!!!), Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Last week, the Ouya console made a huge splash in the gaming world. The company behind Ouya has raised more than $5,000,000 on Kickstarter in nine days. That’s simply remarkable. The initial reactions were overly positive. I’ve read so many articles on how this machine is going to “save” console gaming, free creative developers from the shackles of money-grubbing publishers, patch the ozone layer, and provide San Francisco residents with strong AT&T mobile signal.

Those exuberant articles were followed up by overly negative opinions. I’ve read so many articles on how Ouya will be an utter failure, fragment Android to the point of irrelevance, do absolutely nothing for game developers and publishers, kick America’s unemployment rate back up to double digits, and further damage Mariano Rivera’s knee. Several people have cancelled their Kickstarter pledges, possibly due to the influence of these negative articles.

The 180 on Ouya reflects the binary thinking of many Internet writers: something is awesome or it sucks. Reality is seldom that black and white though; it’s almost always somewhere in between. Does Ouya have a chance to change console gaming and give developers more creative freedom? Sure it does. However, it also has a chance to be the latest in a long line of console pretenders that failed to do much of anything (N-Gage, Phantom, Indrema, etc.). There are so many variables and changes that have yet to happen. It’s too soon to judge Ouya, but many people have already made up their minds…which isn’t that much of a problem because they’ll flip-flop a few times before the console is released anyway. Oh the Internetz.

Anyway, I wanted to see where you stand with Ouya today. What do you think of the backlash and the 180s? Has your opinion of the Ouya console changed after nine days?

Random Thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises (Batman)

Thanks to a bunch of cats called The Avengers, my expectations were lowered for The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve enjoyed Christopher Nolan’s previous Batman movies, but I’ve also had several issues with the way the director has strayed from the comics. With lowered expectations and a love for comic-book purity in mind, I was blown away by The Dark Knight Rises. It’s not as much fun as The Avengers and it’s certainly more about Nolan’s interpretation of Batman than the comic books, but it’s a great superhero movie that wraps up this Batman trilogy nicely. Here are some random thoughts (not a review!) on The Dark Knight Rises. (Spoiler warning!)

Bane: Let’s get the bad out of the way first — Bane’s voice sucked. He sounded like Goldmember’s serious younger brother. I love the bad-ass South American character in the comics that’s driven by hate and powered by performance-enhancing drugs (this also describes most MLB players from 1995-2003). This movie’s Bane is very different. There were some aspects of this Bane that I liked. His fight scenes were fierce and he was the guy making things happen throughout the movie. I didn’t like that his mask pumped his body full of painkillers instead of performance enhancers. I also didn’t like the big reveal that he ultimately wasn’t the baddie behind all the machinations. Bane deserves his own stage. This version of Bane was a melange of coolness and annoyances.

Catwoman: Anne Hathaway was perfect as Catwoman. This is the Catwoman that I love in the comics — sultry, powerful, vulnerable, and morally scattered. Hathaway knocked it out of the park. If you like the version of Catwoman made popular by Devin Grayson and currently penned by Judd Winnick then you’ll love Hathaway’s Catwoman. To be completely honest, I also enjoyed that she spent a chunk of the movie riding a motorcycle that required her to stick her ass in the air. There were a lot of people that panned this casting choice going into the film. Many of them will owe Anne Hathaway an apology.

Full Circle: I really enjoyed how the movie used elements of the first two films and wrapped them up. Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins live on in Talia al Ghul and Bane. The truth of Harvey Dent’s inglorious fall is revealed to Gotham. Scarecrow shows up…to be cool and creepy. Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul shows up in a hallucination (or Qui-Gon Jin was using the Force in the wrong movie). The movie ties everything together nicely and works splendidly as a finale.

Surprises: I had no idea that was Matthew Modine playing Deputy Commissioner Foley. Dude got old. In my head, I still see the young kid in Vision Quest. I also didn’t recognize Nestor Carbonell as Mayor Garcia. I think it’s hilarious that the guy that played Bat Manuel was in the last two Batman movies. Bwahahahahahaha!!!

Michael Caine: He was awesome, as expected, but he was also a bit of distraction for me. Since Bane sounded like Goldmember, I kept waiting for him to have a scene with Alfred Pennyworth and address him as “Aushtin Powas Faja”.

Batman: Christian Bale was pretty much the same. He was great at “acting” as the flippant Bruce Wayne. His Batman voice was over-the-top. He brought more physicality to Batman than any other actor that has played the character. After two movies, people have already made up their minds about Bale’s Batman. The third movie isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion. Personally, I like him as Batman, but agree that his voice can cross the line from intimidating to ridiculous.

Catwoman: Let’s take a moment to look at her again. Anne Hathaway is stunning.

Fernet: I love that Fernet Branca played a part in one of Alfred’s big scenes. It’s an under-appreciated digestif in America.

Conclusion: If you look at Nolan’s Batman world on its own then you’ll think that The Dark Knight Rises is an undeniably great superhero movie. The storytelling is fantastic and most of the performance are strong. This 165-minute film moves at a brisk pace thanks to some slick action and clever directing. Staunch comic-book purists will have problems with the way some of the characters were rewritten and Nolan’s interpretation of these characters, which is a shame because they’re missing out on enjoying a perfectly fine film by being overly stringent. While I had more fun with The AvengersThe Dark Knight Rises is a better movie on several levels — directing, cinematography, acting, score, etc. As a summer blockbuster, Marvel’s movie wins. As a film, The Dark Knight Rises is superior.

Coffee Talk #498: Actors That Will Always Be…

Continuing a tangent started by RPadholic tokz21, I wanted to talk about actors and actresses that you’ll always see as one character. For example, Bill Pullman will always be Lone Starr from Spaceballs to me. No matter what movie or TV show Matthew Perry is in, it’s impossible for me not to see Chandler Bing…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the silly Dream Team vs. 2012 USA Olympic basketball team debate, iPhone 5 rumors, or Marissa Mayer leaving Google to become the new Yahoo! CEO, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Continuing a tangent started by RPadholic tokz21, I wanted to talk about actors and actresses that you’ll always see as one character. For example, Bill Pullman will always be Lone Starr from Spaceballs to me. No matter what movie or TV show Matthew Perry is in, it’s impossible for me not to see Chandler Bing from Friends. Tokz brought up Alison Pill from The Newsroom and seeing her as Kim Pine from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

The ultimate example of this (in my ridiculous head) is Lou Diamond Phillips. He will always be Ritchie Valens…or La BambaStand and Deliver?!? That’s La Bamba Goes to SchoolYoung Guns?!? That’s La Bamba Rides a Horse. I suppose Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker or William Shatner as Captain James Tiberius Kirk would have been easier examples, but La Bamba Goes to School is much funnier.

Anyway, kindly name some actors and actresses that you’ll always see in one role.

A Weekend With the Google Nexus 7

Here’s the short version: the Google Nexus 7 is a high-quality tablet that runs the most current version of Android and sells for a bargain price. Before I get to the long version, I wanted to share my perspective going into my weekend with Google’s first “Nexus” tablet. I love both Android and iOS. At the moment, my primary phone is a Galaxy Nexus and my primary tablet is an iPad 2012. I use, enjoy, and appreciate Android and iOS for different reasons. Now here are some random observations (not a review) from three days with the Google Nexus 7.

Build Quality: Asus has been making quality mobile electronics for decades, so it was no surprise that the Nexus 7’s build quality is superior. While I wouldn’t put it in the same league as what Apple offers, the construction and materials are pretty close. The metal frame feels rigid. The reinforced Corning glass feels smooth and sturdy. The plastic back is dimpled, which gives it a nice grip and a leathery feel. Compared to the Amazon Kindle Fire and the smaller Samsung Galaxy Tab models, the Nexus 7 is a cut above.

Jelly Bean: While many people are going gaga over the hardware, the software is what grabbed me. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) was a major step for the OS in terms usability and aesthetics. Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) adds a lot of refinement. Thanks to some vsync  and buffering wizardry called “Project Butter”, the OS feels smoother and the native Google Apps (Gmail, Phone, Calendar, etc.) are slickly animated. The Roboto font has been slightly altered and looks better than ever. The already outstanding notification system has gotten more powerful. Here’s the full Jelly Bean changelog if you want all the details. In short, this is the best Android has ever been.

Performance: The Nexus 7 is powered by Nvidia’s KAI platform, which is the company’s mass market Tegra 3 offering. This quad-core chip is clocked at 1.2GHz and accompanied by 1GB of RAM. The tablet handled everything I threw at it: 720p video, 3D games, etc. There are more powerful variants of the Tegra 3 available, but the one found in the Nexus 7 strikes a good balance between performance and battery life. Compared to top-of-the-line full-sized tablets, the Nexus 7 is a step behind the iPad 2012 and the Asus Transformer TF700. It doesn’t offer cutting-edge performance, but it’s close to the top.

Size and Weight: After using Apple iPads daily over the last couple of years, the relatively small Nexus 7 felt unusual to me on day one. I’ve handled small tablets before, but never for more than an hour. After a brief adjustment period, I came to love the size of the Nexus 7. The portability is fantastic and it’s great for almost everything I enjoy doing on tablets (more on that in the media section). The size and weight make it ideal for practically any situation. Whereas the iPad 2012 feels a bit cumbersome after an hour or so in bed, the Nexus 7 never felt uncomfortable. Naturally, a lot of this depends on your personal preferences and if you’re a giant. For reference, check out the photo above of the Nexus 7 sandwiched by an iPad 2012 and a Galaxy Nexus.

Screen: Due to its low price, I was expecting a mediocre screen on the Nexus 7. That was a mistake. The 1,280 x 800 IPS display on this tablet is bright and beautiful. I was pleasantly surprised by the screen’s high quality. I prefer the true colors of IPS LCD over the exaggerated colors many AMOLED screens produce. That said, there are a lot of people — like RPadholic smartguy — the prefer AMOLED offerings. No matter your preference, I think you’ll be impressed by the Nexus 7’s screen.

Gaming: As a huge fan of portable gaming, I was quite pleased with how the Nexus 7 served as a portable console. All the games I tried on the tablet performed well; at a glance, Dark MeadowRiptide GPSuper Stickman GolfFruit Ninja, and Eve of the Genesis loked as good on the Nexus 7 as they did on the iPad 2012. Of course some of those games have specific Tegra 3 optimizations. In general, the seven-inch size is fantastic for games; you get a ton of screen real estate and none of the unwieldiness certain videogame genres bring to full-sized tablets. Your mileage may vary depending on the size of your hands (again, giants) and your personal preferences.

Media: For movies, music, TV, Internet video, web browsing, etc., the Nexus 7 is a great tablet. Where it falls short is with digital magazines and comic books. They just don’t read as well on a tablet this size. The text and images are simply too small. As a comic-book nerd, this is obviously a tremendous issue. Using the outstanding Comics by Comixology, I read a dozen or so comic books on the Nexus 7 and was unsatisfied with the experience. Comics and magazines are flat-out better on larger tablets.

Initial Conclusion: After using it for a weekend, I’m hugely impressed with the Nexus 7. It beats the pants off of the similarly priced Kindle Fire and offers nearly as much tablet computing as the iPad 2012 for less than half the price. It’s a powerful and well-built product that’s relatively inexpensive. That said, it’s not going to replace my iPad 2012 any time soon. I love comics too much and iOS still has the better software selection. However, as someone that uses a lot of Google products, I’ll be using this tablet quite a bit. Oddly enough, the Nexus 7 has me feeling unsatisfied with my Galaxy Nexus. For numerous reasons (IPS display, build quality), Google’s tablet has me wishing for a Google phone made by Asus.

I’m going to write more about the Nexus 7 after spending more time with it. For now, please let me know if you have any questions about the Google Nexus 7 by Asus.

Coffee Talk #497: Your Comic-Con 2012 Favorites

There was so much to go gaga over at Comic-Con 2012. The movie trailers and announcements were brilliant. The videogame showings were boss. What were your favorite Comic-Con 2012 happenings? Let’s start with the games. Epic had a great show with Gears of War: Judgement and Fortnite…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Danny Garcia’s stunning upset victory over Amir Khan, the rapidly declining prices of SSDs, or the Jeremy Lin saga, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

There was so much to go gaga over at Comic-Con 2012. The movie trailers and announcements were brilliant. The videogame showings were boss. What were your favorite Comic-Con 2012 happenings? Let’s start with the games. Epic had a great show with Gears of War: Judgement and Fortnite. While I’m thrilled for the company’s success on a personal level, the videogame announcement that won me over was Deadpool. Marvel’s merc with a mouth is one of my favorite characters of all time. I’m thrilled that he’s getting very own adventure and I can’t wait to enjoy the game’s writing. Duct tape!!!

The movie trailers, panels, and announcement were killer too. I’m sure all of you were pleased to learn that Arnold Schwarzenegger confirmed a sequel to Twins. Most people seemed excited by the latest Iron Man and Superman footage. Fans of minor characters were happy to see The Guardians of the Galaxy getting a movie (Gamora is hot, btw). Obviously Captain America was always going to have a sequel, but I marked out when Captain America: The Winter Soldier was revealed. I love the Winter Soldier character. The revamped Bucky Barnes is cool and modern. He also fits into that tweener category of superheroes that I enjoy. I’m totally amped to see Winter Soldier on the big screen.

Now it’s your turn! What were your favorite movie and videogame happenings of Comic-Con 2012?

Epic Reveals Fortnite Screens and Details at Comic-Con

As San Diego Comic-Con 2012, Epic Games revealed new screens and details for its upcoming PC game Fortnite. The company stated that this will be the first game to utilize Unreal Engine 4. Similar to the hugely popular MinecraftFortnite’s activities change depending on the time of day. In the daytime, players gather resources, explore, and work together to build elaborate forts. At nighttime, players have to defend their prized domiciles against baddies.

Obviously, the game will differ on a visual level. Where Minecraft charmed with its pixel art, Fortnite will aim to dazzle with cutting-edge tech. The art style is also playful and I think Epic is onto something here. There’s just something nostalgic about building a fort. I fondly remember building all sorts of (crappy looking) constructs with my friends when I was a kid. There’s something magical about transforming a refrigerator box into an impregnable fortress. If experiences like that were part of your childhood then there’s a great chance that Fortnite will resonate with you.

Check out the screens below and share your thoughts on Epic’s Fortnite.

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