Monthly Archives: December 2009

Only one word to describe the following…AWESOME!

PS3 and Madden 10

PS3 and Madden 10

Christmas Time

So glad that Christmas is finally here. Get a nice 4 day weekend. Then New Year’s will be here and I will get another 4 day weekend. Thank goodness for floating holidays and PTO time. We would get paid at our regular hourly rate for the floating holidays, but I figured I might as well use them if they’re there, right?

Going to try and enjoy my day off tomorrow. Got a lot of stuff to do around the house though. I guess I’ll try to get those out of the way ASAP so I can get back to being lazy. Hoping to be able to sleep in tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

Safe travels for everyone that is travelling this holiday season – us included. Pretty icky weather out there to be driving in.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Let the travels commence!

Well tis the season to hit the road and visit all the family.  Andrea’s been down to Wichita the past two weekends while I had to work.  But either tomorrow night or Friday morning we’re both heading to Cimarron to make the rounds.

It all depends on the weather.  First they were calling for a Blizzard Watch, then cancelled the Blizzard Watch, then this morning they re-instated it.  Doesn’t sound like we’re going to get a lot of snow, but the wind will be the problem.  It sounds like it’s going to all be wrapping up Thursday evening, so if the roads are fairly clear we’re going to make a break for it.  If we can get out there, the trip back should be a piece of cake!

Got all my Christmas shopping done except for one person.  And that Christmas isn’t until January, so I’ve still got time!

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Posting blog from Word 2010 Beta

This is pretty friggin’ sweet! Haha

I’m such a nerd.

About me – Dec 12, 2009

Archived “About Me” page

Andrea and I during our visit to Yellowstone

Andrea and I during our visit to Yellowstone

If you asked Andrea to describe me, she’d probably say I’m goofy, funny, smart, devilishly handsome, and never wrong. She knows me so well! Okay, perhaps she wouldn’t say that.

For the most part I strive to keep things as uneventful as possible. Despite my efforts, it’s been pretty interesting so far. I got married to the most lovable girl in the world in June of 2008 (that’s Andrea). No kids…yet. Just a 10 pound cat and a 10 pound dog. They’re both very annoying in their own special way.

I’m currently working at Eagle Radio and Hull Broadcasting in Great Bend, KS.  People ask me what I do there and it’s kinda hard to answer.  I am on air occasionally.  7AM – 10AM Saturday mornings, but outside of that it’s pretty random depending on who’s on vacation and whether there’s any remotes going on.  I get to work on our webpages, make commercials, do traffic logs and a whole variety of stuff.  It’s fun being able to have a hand in a little bit of everything, but at times it can keep me feeling a little spread thin.  All in all it’s worth it though.

Our Geek Station

Our Geek Station

I can’t deny my geeky-ness, so I’ve decided to embrace it. And don’t let Andrea talk any smack about me. She’s just as geeky as I am. I enjoy working on computers, and every time I make an upgrade…it’s just a matter of weeks before she has to have a BETTER upgrade in her computer. She’s weird like that and I love her for it. I most certainly wouldn’t have married her if she were a “normal” person. We do lame things together like sit next to each other on our computers and send instant messages back and forth. Or team up in a game of Rise of Nations, form an alliance and annihilate the rest of the world. So before you ask to come over and visit…know what world you’re stepping into!

My 1985 Oldsmobile Toronado

My 1985 Oldsmobile Toronado

Another obvious obsession of mine is cars. I’m no mechanic, but I enjoy getting outside and turning the wrench, letting off some steam. It’s almost therapeutic. I bought this 1985 Toronado Caliente back in 2006. The paint was faded, exhaust rusted out, headliner sagging. I’ve put a lot of work into it and like to think it looks halfway respectable now. It has over 230,000 miles on it and still runs like a champ. I wouldn’t hesitate to drive this baby anywhere! It’s comfortable, quiet, and a true example of 80’s luxury. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m proud of it. Click the picture of the car to the left and it’ll take you to my Picasa gallery where you can check out more pictures if you’d like including some mid-work shots.

Original KartMasters Webpage logo.  Cir. 1997

Original KartMaster's Webpage logo. Cir. 1997

The website here has really evolved over the years, dating back to the early days of Geocites.com, when you could get a free website WITHOUT all the ads plastered all over the place. There I cut my teeth on basic HTML, rambled on about my Nintendo 64 games, and created the first “Helen Hunt Gallery”. I clearly remember, the banner above was created with Ulead PhotoImpact 3 (I think it’s up to 12 now). I recently tried to track down the old site, but it had been abandoned for so long, it was apparently purged.

Some time later I began talking to another Helen Hunt site owner, Justin. Who was trusting enough to send an $80 check through the mail to form a partnership that gave birth to somefantastic.com. It was a shared domain that we used to host our websites for a good two years. From here The Helen Hunt gallery reached its pinnacle. Several GoldenEye Fest were organized and reported on. It was truly a golden age for the website.

The Update Bus

The Update Bus

As time went on life happened. We all agreed not to renew somefantastic.com and it soon became a spam search placeholder. My site was revamped and hosted on Dad’s Ucom webspace, where it still resides. From here the site slowly started to take the blog form which it holds today. However it was cumbersome to update, and consequently, rarely was. Although this generation of the site is famous for creating the Update Bus! A photoshopped image of Christian band Disciple’s tour bus.

In 2005 I signed up for my first blog. I created a profile at Blogger and began blogging away! All of the old Blogger posts have been archived and are still accessible here on bgwillers.com. The service was horrid however. The site was frequently down. And at times when it was up, posting was impossible. I don’t know how much hair I ripped out after making long eloquent posts, only to have them lost to the mists because of a Blogger error. Shortly after being introduced to WordPress, I moved the blog to where it now resides.

So I guess I’m the guy in charge around here. But I do share the site with a few close friends and family. Of course everyone is welcome to read and comment. However, there are a few other contributors here on the site besides myself.

Biebs

Biebs

I’ve known Biebs for a long time. We ran around doing all sorts of stupid crap in middle school and high school. We’ve just seemed to keep in touch ever since. Tech savvy and artistic…and single, ladies! Be sure to check out his website at www.biebsworld.com.

Mom showing off her super power.  Hidden attack cats.

Mom showing off her super power. Hidden attack cats.

I’ve known Mom for a long time too! Ha ha. She’s always hung around the website offering words of encouragement or asking what the hell I’m talking about when somebody goes off on a big tech post. She’s a healthy dose of common sense and just as annoyed with the world as everybody else around here!

Andrea not looking at the blog.

My lovely wife Andrea. She doesn’t post here much. But I’m sure it’s because she’s doing far more important things. Like being nice to me, and teaching me to be organized. She’s the light of my life and I’d be in big trouble if I didn’t give her permission to post on the blog!

So now you should know a little more than you knew before. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the site!

Web Nostalgia of the Day: excite.com

Current excite.com homepage.

Back when Internet Explorer and Netscape were duking it out, so were search sites like Excite, Lycos, and Altavista.  I remember much debate over which search site was the best.  Of course I always preferred the one that ranked my Helen Hunt website the highest at the time.  Ha ha!

Search sites were truly awful back then.  If you don’t believe me, head over to the current Excite.com website and search for anything you might search for today.  Excite has updated their search algorithms as much as they’ve updated their homepage in the last 10 years is seems.

1999 Excite homepage from archive.org.

Of course in addition to searching, Excite was a mish-mash of all sorts of information and services.  I used to have an Excite e-mail address, custom Excite homepage, and even used good old Excite Chat, also known as Virtual Places (VP).

VP was basically just a chat program that used webpages as the chat rooms.  They had a bunch of specific Excite Super Chat pages with themed backgrounds for whatever your interest happened to be (though any URL on the internet could be a chatroom).  And upon entering any of these rooms you were thrown into the jungle of random immaturity, heated arguments, and suggestive (or sometimes just plain explicit) chatting.  I suppose the internet hasn’t changed much in that regard.

The part that makes it memorable for me though are all the little avatars folks would use.  Tiny little images there were about half the size of a postage stamp that you could create and little speech bubbles would pop out of them as you chatted.  You could move them around the screen.  Usually to harass other users as you changed your avatar to something like “LOSER” with an arrow pointing at the avatar next to you.  Then watch as they try to move away from you.

Of course Excite.com was a casualty of the “Dot Com Bust”.  And once Google picked up steam, I know I for one left those old search engines behind and never looked back.  But it’s interesting to look back and see how the online landscape has changed in such a short amount of time.  Then we all pretty much consumed content that was created and placed in front of us.  And now-a-days it’s all about user generated stuff like YouTube and Facebook.  Stuff like the dancing baby and fart soundboards are relegated to e-mail forwards and internet obscurity.

But don’t forget those simpler times.  When sites like Excite had EVERYTHING you’d EVER need!

Ugh. Snow.

I remember when I was a kid there was nothing better than a snow day.  The more the better.  Now as I slowly transform into a grumpy old man, I find that I could really do without it!

Well that’s not entirely true.  I just wish it would snow, but that somehow driveways, sidewalks and roadways were immune.  I shoveled my driveway enough to make it passable today, but tomorrow I’m gonna have to hop to it and get the thing cleared out.  I guess I’m always looking for a workout, right?  hehe

But at least the Toronado handles it like a champ.  It just trudges right through that stuff like a big lumbering… lumberer.  I can’t help but smirk when I see people plowing along in their little Hyundais letting the snow decide where they go.  It’s good to be the king.

Another Toronado not being stuck.

Getting what you want. (aka Guaranteed Happiness)

One of the sites I get to enjoy regularly via my Google Reader is lifehacker.com.  They tend towards the techy side but they offer a lot of clever insights on handy little “Life Hacks” that may or may not be useful.  One that popped up today was “Negotiate Anything“.  Every once in a while I run across something or somebody that kinda re-enforces my beliefs and helps me understand a bit more about how things work, and how I can use my abilities to make them work more in my favor.  In this world you can’t have everything instantly, but with a little careful strategy you can tilt the table in your favor and have a few more things go your way than those that might not.

The Lifehacker article I linked to above talks about Herb Cohen.  Honestly I’d never heard of the guy.  But supposedly he’s the “defacto” negotiator.  I watched the video in the article and a lot of what he said really resonated with me (I guess it’s that Althouse blood, hehe).  He says the three variables in negotiation are power, time, and information.  I’d never really thought of it like that, but when I’m “negotiating” those three things are what I focus on, I just never really thought about it like that.  I kinda just went on “instinct” I guess (again, thanks Dad for those genes).

You might think about your “negotiation skills” and you think about buying a car or a house, or interviewing for a job.  But if you think about it, pretty much every decision in your life is a negotiation.  Will I do this or not? It all depends on whether you agree with the other person.  Even when you don’t think there’s another person there.  For instance say you’re hungry and a Big Mac would REALLY hit the spot.  If I asked you right now what a Big Mac cost you probably couldn’t tell me.  But you know if you rolled up to the drive through window and they said “Big Mac’s are $15 today.”  You’d say to hell with that no matter how reasonably hungry you were.  But I’m willing to guess most of the time when you go through the drive through, you look at the price, pull around, pay it and go on your way.  You and Mc Donald’s just negotiated a fair price for your meal that you both agree on.

But, Matt you’re 400 words into this and I still don’t know how to get what I want!  I feel cheated!

First off.  Nobody gets what they want.  Hate to break it to ya.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You knew it.  You knew I didn’t have any secret knowledge that unlocked the universe, and definitely not any knowledge that will just get people to hand over the goods.  Do you want to know the secret though?  Do you REALLY want to know?….  The secret is something you’ve long suspected.  That some people get what they want more often than others.  And lets be honest with each other.  When you get what you want.  You’re happy.  Me?  9 days out of 10 I’m a happy camper.  Hey, we all have a crummy day now and again.

Fine then.  How do I get what I want…. more often?

Glad you asked!

What DO you want?

What is it that you want? A pony?  They’re cool, but who’s gonna scoop all the poop?  A million bucks?  Well there’s those printing presses, but I hear they’re cracking down on who gets to use ’em.  And then there’s that working your whole life and earning it.  But that’s lame.

Honestly though, this is the hardest part.  Whether it’s deciding what you want to do for a living, or whether you look better in hot pants or bell bottoms.  A lot of times you know you want something but you don’t know that that is.  Best advice I can give you is don’t over think it.  By the time you’ve narrowed it down to a couple good choices just be bold, pick one and go with it.  Commit to it.  Live and breath it if you have to, even in the face of those that laugh and tell you you’re crazy.  Did it ever occur to you that you look GREAT in hot pants AND bell bottoms?

Be realistic.

Be realistic. Big things take a lot of time and resources.  Which either means you’re going to need a lot of help, a lot of time, or a ridiculous amount of luck.  Also consider all the draw backs.  For example. People like to look at celebrities and think how nice it would be not to have to worry about money and be known every where you go.  But along with that means you can’t even go buy toilet paper without getting stopped for autographs, and everybody hears about it when your wife chases you down the driveway until you hit a fire hydrant.

Some things are nice but require ongoing maintenance.  Swimming pools are awesome, but it’s a lot of work to keep them from becoming a lab experiment, and every year you have to winterize them and recondition them for summer.  A gym membership will let you swim whenever you want, someone else takes care of the pool, and it’s cheaper, but you have to leave your home  and swim with random strangers.

You can’t have it all for a little, so be realistic or you’re going to be disappointed.

Check the emotions.

Check the emotions. Sorry, drama llamas.  The word is out.  Nobody cares how much your life sucks.  I don’t say this to be mean, or infer that your friends and family don’t care about your burdens.  I say it because lamenting on why you are so downtrodden is never going to be a good tactic for getting what you want.  Never.  Ever.  Because the people that care are probably already helping you in every way they can.  That only stands to reason that everyone else doesn’t care.  You can hate the world and bitch about them being selfish insensitive pricks, or you can check the baggage and get in the game.

The biggest thing that Herb Cohen said in the video in that Lifehacker article is to think of negotiations like a game.  “Because in a game you care.  You REALLY care.  But… not that much.”  In a game you always want to win.  And it sucks when you lose, but shoot.  It’s just a game.

It seems counter intuitive, but checking the emotions is (in my opinion) the most important part of actually getting what you want.  Not only do you approach things with a more level head, but you can really FREAK PEOPLE OUT.  Grandpa Frank told me a story once about his first car.  It was a 1942 Chevy (I think, Grandma ask Grandpa and correct me on these details if I’m wrong).  Frank and his Dad went to look at this car.  Frank loved it.  The fella wanted $400 for the car.  His Dad said “No way.  I’ll give you $250 for it.”  Of course the guy scoffed at the offer.  Frank’s Dad just said “Fine,” and headed back to the car.  Frank couldn’t believe it.  It wasn’t the greatest car, but his dad couldn’t even cough up $400 bucks for his son’s first car?  I’m sure he’d already pictured himself shining it up, driving it to school showing it to all his friends.  But instead he was sitting in the PASSENGER seat of his father’s car as they drove AWAY from HIS car.  Lo and behold as they’re driving away, the seller chases them down half the block just to ask Frank’s Dad if he’ll still buy it for $250.

Getting what you want right now always comes with a price.  But always give the impression that whatever you’re after isn’t that important.  That you can afford to walk if you don’t get what you want.  My Dad always said, “Never underestimate how desperate someone is to get rid or something.”  And the converse it true as well.  Never underestimate how badly someone wants what you have to offer. This applies to everything.  Cars, jobs, heck even relationships!

Be prepared to compromise.

Be prepared to compromise. If you look at compromise as defeat, you’re NEVER going to get what you want.  Instead look at it as opportunity.  Because THIS is the crucial moment where you can really skew things in your favor.  This is where you have to opportunity to do what is in YOUR best interest.  Think WAY back to the beginning.  The three key variable of negotiation are power, time, and information.  By playing the cards you’re strongest in and minimizing your weaknesses, you will usually come out on the favorable end, even if only slightly.  But in the end, if you reach that agreement you’ve gotten what you want right?

For example, when I wanted to paint my car.  I realized I had a lot more time than money.  TIME>POWER.  I had read and seen results of people who’d painted their cars with a roller and rust-o-leum.  Armed with this INFORMATION my car got painted over the course of a few months.  Does it look as good as a show car?  No… but it’s a compromise.  One I’m pretty satisfied with.

Things usually are the way they are for a reason.

And finally, just remember.  Usually almost always all the time things are the way they are for a reason.  Don’t over think things.  Don’t force things.  But most of all, don’t convince yourself that you can’t do something that tons of other folks already do.  Figure out what you want.  Figure how to get it.  And GET IT!

I just want bigger boots.

Well I’ve had a resolution for this winter to be better equipped to handle the weather.  So a few days ago I picked up some snow boots and insulators to keep my feet nice warm and dry.  Well I tried the boots on at the store, but I couldn’t try on the insulators unless I took them out of the package.  Get home and boots + insulators = too small.  No biggie.  I’ll just take them back and exchange them.  I figure a couple sizes bigger on both outta do it.

So last night we roll up to Orschlen’s.  There were several cars there, but I wouldn’t say they were swamped.  I grab the boots, insulators, and my original reciept and head to the nearest checkout stand.  I’m not sure how exchanges work at Orschlen’s, but I explain to the guy that I just want to exchange these for the same thing bigger size.  He says that’s fine and asks me to place my stuff in a cart right up front there and go get what I need.

We do so, and look around a little bit to see if there’s anything else we need while we’re there.  After a while of just window shopping we head to the front with just the items I want to exchange.  I go to the same guy I went to before (you know since I already talked to him about exchanging) even though his line was a little bit longer.  As it would turn out, this guy is the Smokey Dan of Orschlen Farm & Home.  So from now on, we’ll just call him Dan.

Dan appeared to be “training” someone.  I use the quotes because the trainee seemed to be helping this guy make it through some snags in the computer system.  It wasn’t the computer system’s fault.  It’s just that you can’t do things like, type in a zip code, when there’s an error message on the screen saying you forgot the city “Please click OK.”  Eventually he gets my old reciept scanned in, rings up my new items and says, “That’ll be $25.”

“Huh?  I’m just exchanging this stuff for the exact same things.  Same prices and everything!”

“Well you didn’t tell me that before,” Dan said.

“Sorry.  I had both these items in my hands when I talked to you the first time AND placed them both in the cart you told me to put them in which looks like somebody else already hauled off.”

Dan sighed and said, “Okay.”

The next 8 minutes or so involved Dan trying to undo everything he just did.  After many dings, and error messages he finally decides it will be FASTER to start over.  Genius.  So he trys to, I guess, cancel out the sale and manages to freeze the check out machine up.  I don’t know how you crash a POS machine, but he did it.  Meanwhile somebody is asking him for his override code for another register.  OH, apparently this guy is IN CHARGE tonight!  I can’t even ask if the manager is here!  After giving the gal the WRONG code and her having to come back twice while he fiddles with the machine trying to figure out how to restart it he decides it would be FASTER to move to another register.

So for the third time I explain how to spell my last name, and give him my address and phone number so he can put it in again incorrectly a third different way.  BUT FINALLY I have a receipt that says I can leave the store with boots and insulators and not owe them anything!  HOORAY!

It was frustrating, but now I’ve got me some boots that will keep my feet and pants warm and dry.  Good thing to as it looks like we’ve already got a good amount of snow overnight and more to come today.  Bring it ON!

A look back: Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

What was I thinking?  I mean, I knew better.  I could hardly stand the first Turok game.  But when you’re as hopelessly consumed with games that you’ve already beaten everything and you have and darn near everything that’s ever came out for the N64 (the good stuff anway), what’s a kid to do?  Turok 2 gets off to a good start right off the shelf with a cool leathery textured box and a slick black cartridge. Sadly the trend of being more fun to look at than actually play continues from the box art to the screen once you fire it up in the system.

Ends up, the reasoning for purchasing this game can be summed up in just two words.  “Eye Candy”.  And as these re-reviews have proved to me time and time again pretty much EVERY game I bought on the N64 primarily for graphics hasn’t stood the test of time well.  Just like with games of today, back then some of the shortcomings in gameplay and fun PLAYING the game can be made up by the detail and awe the graphics provide.  Especially when 3D gaming was still in its infancy.  Cool new effects and rendering techniques were a joy to experience for the first time.  But as time goes on and other snazzy looking games come out, older graphics just don’t impress like they used to.

For me this game was all about graphics. And yes. That's a dinosaur with cannons on its back.

So this was a difficult game to re-play.  The level design is sketchy at best.  Precarious jumps from platform to platform seem like a needless challenge that serves only to frustrate.  I found myself ALWAYS low on ammo and having to back-pedal halfway across maps while chucking 10 arrows into a dinosaur with a laser gun chasing me down.  It wasn’t long before I remembered the only way I ever made any progress in this game was by plugging in the “All Weapons and Ammo” cheat.

This was one saving grace this game had.  There were some really interesting weapons.  Over the top stuff like the “Cerebreal Bore”.  The instruction manual explains some BS about locking on to enemy brainwaves.  But the fact is it’s cool just to kick back, lock on to an enemy’s skull and watch this slow moving projectile pursue some random rifle toting dinosaur monster thing as they scamper away, then drill into their skull and then BOOM!  Sounds graphic and for the time it probably was, but it certianly doesn’t look realistic by any stretch.

The gore was excessive enough to be humorous in most cases.

Unfortunately that’s it.  Once I’d had fun playing with all the guns, there was just no motivation to keep playing the game.  The story isn’t integral to the game, so you don’t really care what happens next, and the levels and enemies aren’t interesting enough to care what’s around the next corner.

If nothing else Turok 2 is a good example of how hopelessly obsessed I was with gaming at the time.  When I could beat a game in a week or two tops, and it was months, or even years at times between decent games, as Gramps would say, “We played with what we had at the time.”  Unfortunately the time I spent with Turok 2 was much better spent doing just about anything else.  I never even got close to beating the game.  And the tacked on multi-player was utterly worthless.  So as little as the game had to offer back then… I truly see NO redeeming qualities today.