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  • PSA for potential “Verizon Droid” adopters

    Posted on November 9th, 2009 Steve 1 comment


    First off this is NOT a review of any kind. I am in no way responsible for anything stupid you may do as a result of the information below (i.e. get thrown out of a Verizon store for being an unruly nerd customer). 😉

    My girlfriend and her mother both purchased this phone on Saturday. Of course I went with them to make sure they did not get suckered into any extra services or accessories and because I also am very interested in buying it, but am not eligible for an upgrade yet.

    The process was fairly smooth, but obviously something interesting happened or I would not be writing this to Shawn’s blog right? As usual, the sales rep synced their old contacts to their new Droid phones and then promptly asked for their email address and password. Obviously this raised my attention, and after a short ‘discussion’, I was informed that he (the sales rep) is ‘not allowed’ to let any Droid device leave the store without a synced email account on the phone due to “how the data plan works”. Clearly, he has no clue what is going on and management has told him to do something, so he does it.

    If it was me purchasing the phone, he would have been dealing with a PITA engineer for a customer. Luckily my girlfriend and her mother don’t use their email for anything important, so they handed over their credentials and let the sales rep go out back and sync the devices. No issues have occurred as a result.

    So when it comes time for me to purchase, I plan on:

    1)Claim I don’t have an email account and see what happens…


    2)Create a dummy gmail account to sync with the phone, change it myself as I see fit after I leave the store.


    3)Change my email’s password to a temporary password, change it back when I leave the store


    4)Attempt to swindle the device out of the sales rep’s hands in order to configure the device myself (This is the best case, and what I will try first).
    This was at my local Verizon store, mileage may vary elsewhere.

    Take it for what you will…


  • RB: DLC 11/10/09 – White Stripes, Damned, Kasabian

    Posted on November 6th, 2009 Simon 1 comment

    Rock-Band-2-DLC-WhitestripesThis week’s DLC has been announced, and this time it is a refreshing change to see two new acts added to the platform.  The White Stripes make their debut with three tracks, there’s a song from old-school punk favorite The Damned, as well as a track from skate-punk rockers Kasabian.  Here’s the track list:

    I’ve talked a bit about the past comments of a certain front man for The White Stripes, and regardless of his statements it seems that he has gotten over his dislike of the music gaming genre.  I’m assuming there are a number of reasons, not the least of which is being left out of a major growth market in the industry, but its clear that with all the Jack White music that has appeared in the last few months that something has changed his perspective.  I’ve read comments from drummers that have said that Meg White is one of the worst drummers in rock and roll (she even admits she’s never had a single music lesson), yet I can’t find any fault with what gets laid down on their studio tracks.   Maybe its just sexism.  Maybe her drumming is too simple and boring?  I find that hard to believe based on their success in the last ten years.  The truth will come out on Tuesday.

    “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” is an essential White Stripes song.  I first heard this song as they performed on “Saturday Night Live” in 2002, it was an unforgettable performance.  I immediately sought out the CD and subsequently their back-catalogue, and have been a huge fan ever since.   I’m elated to see this band appear in Rock Band, they have an incredible sound that will be a natural fit for the game.  I’m frankly surprised that it took this long to get this music in the game, and I was a bit disappointed that the other franchise got the first crack at it in GH5.

    “Smash it Up” is a 70’s punk rock classic, but I wonder why they didn’t release the Damned with the Hallowe’en pack?  Seems like it would have been a natural fit to me.  The vocals on this song are very strong and tie into a nice melody near the end.   I’d like to mention that the track “Club Foot” from Kasabian is the same track from that Tony Hawk game that was so popular on the original XBox (among other things), and this is also Kasabian’s most recognized song, which joins their very upbeat track “Shoot the Runner” from last year’s DLC.  “Club Foot” has a very catchy riff, and a very hip-hop sounding drum beat, and sounds like it will be a lot of fun to play.  Listen to the constant driving of the bass in the last minute of the song to get an idea of how busy this song will be for all players.

    Next week looks like  a winner for me, I’m going to pick up all of them.

  • Band Hero Launch Marred by Another Avatar Law Suit

    Posted on November 5th, 2009 Simon No comments

    bandhero_lawsuitActivision just can’t seem to get a break this year.  Guitar Hero 5 was not the first game to feature in-game renderings of the artists themselves.  However it did break new ground by allowing you to recruit those artists to be in your own band, and even forcing them to play other people’s music.  This minor detail has ballooned into a mushroom cloud of controversy as the artists are now taking great exception to their images’ handling in the game.

    The latest band to voice their displeasure with Activision’s treatment is No Doubt, who were featured artists in their new game Band Hero.  As with Guitar Hero 5, you can recruit the members of the band into your own, and watch as Gwen Stefani sings the entire Band Hero catalogue, including those of her male contemporaries.   The lawsuit declares that this fact was never discussed, and submits that while they did agree to a virtual performance of their own music, they would never agree to playing other music or the ability to ‘break up’ the band.  From their perspective, Activision has exceeded their mandate for displaying the band with their own music.

    Activision originally responded to their complaint by stating that a fix would be too expensive – I wonder if it will be cheaper than settling a defamation or breach of contract lawsuit, and then being forced to pay to fix it anyways.  Why then, Activision, can you not do this with other acts in the game?  Why are some bands locked into their own performance, and others can be made to perform any music you want them to?  This is perhaps the core of the lawsuit, and its entirely possible that the lawyers for both Nirvana and No Doubt overlooked this fact when signing the contracts.
    All this leads me to believe that we can expect to see a major lawsuit from Wolfgang Van Halen over being depicted as a cartoony, fat little joke, or “Rock’nRoll Star Wars Kid” as I have decided to call him.    Perhaps Daft Punk will take issue with being made to play a No Doubt & Nirvana mash up in DJ Hero?  Either way this is bad press for Activision, but probably a boon for music games in general, as artists will hopefully take more interest in how they license their music and how their image is represented, and artists taking more interest in our hobby is always a good thing.

  • Think of the Children: Rock Band introduces Song Ratings System

    Posted on November 5th, 2009 Simon 5 comments

    Rock-Band-2-DLC-LegoESRBEarlier in September, Harmonix confirmed the facts that the song list from Lego:RB would be 100% exportable and further that not all songs in the RB catalogue would be playable through Lego:RB.  This was due to the adult nature of some of the lyrics, the overt sexual themes that are apparent in some tracks, and don’t forget all that death metal.  With the release of Lego: Rock Band in stores on this past Tuesday, Harmonix has provided full disclosure on how their system works, which songs made the ‘family friendly’ cut, and which songs will definitely require “supervision”.

    Songs with the “FF” logo will appear in the L:RB set list as playable tracks.  Songs with a “SR” logo are considered too risque or dangerous for young ears.   You can see the entire catalog listed here beside each song’s rating.  From the list it appears that about half the catalogue is assigned in each category.

    I am not a parent, but I stongly believe that you should always use your own judgement as a parent, not neccessarily rely on what an arbitrary ratings system decides is appropriate or inappropriate.    These can be great guides to understanding what kind of content is included, but I question whether or not the people making the call are qualified to do so.  In this case, Harmonix appears to have drawn a very broad line around acceptable and unacceptable content.
    Now there is no question that many of the songs included in the RB catalogue are best left for mature audiences.  No seven year olds should be regailing their parents with cute renditions of Electric Six’s “Gay Bar” or Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Date with the Night”.  But by taking away the choice from parents, they are essentially telling you what is and is not good parenting.  In order to sell this product to parents, Harmonix has to give assurances that the game is not harmful in any conceivable way.  The Lego brand has a great deal of public trust and I’ve never met anyone who thought anything wrong of the Lego company or their toys.

    I would have rather have seen a content filter that can be bypassed, even if that filter was set to ‘on’ by default but one that you could disable.   Would this have made the game better? Probably not, but it certainly would get more playtime out of the hardcore RB crowd.   As it stands right now (speaking as a hardcore RB crowdie) once I have exported the music from the game, I’m not going to be spending a lot of time with the game itself.    Music is an intensely passionate art form, music gaming can be a very passionate a hobby, and this has lowered my excitement going into this game because I know that some of the best music is censored and hidden from view.

    Overall I think this was an inevitable progression for the platform, and comparing with the content that was shown in Band Hero, I think Harmonix is probably a better judge of acceptable music for five year olds.

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