Friday, February 26, 2010

Video of the Week: Interstate Love Song

This week's video is Stone Temple Pilot's Interstate Love Song.

I've always liked this song and it is short and sweet (like this entry about it will be) so that was definitely incentive to choose it for my video this week. The song is a bit on the low end and this is where I tend to have more trouble as I just fail so much musically that I can not find out how to make myself sing it in a higher octave.. I managed to make 100% anyway so I guess it doesn't really matter.

As before I have included external audio along with the capture for volume reasons. It does seem though that since filming this video I have found a solution that will allow me to use full direct audio for next week.. yay! ^^

Sadly I also had my camera too zoomed in and cut off part of my head.. ooops.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: Tits and More Tits (PG- 13+)

So the other day while I was out and about I happened to find Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe for only 15 euros.

I'm actually a HUGE Mortal Kombat fan and have been playing the series ever since I had a Super Nintendo when I was little (that's a lie, actually I did play it on the 1st Gen Gameboy and in arcades).. I've pretty much rented every MK there was while growing up (my parents wouldn't let us buy it because they didn't like how violent it was) and have slowly grown disappointed with the series as the years went on. I honestly believe that MK3 was probably MK's high point.

Anyway I wasn't interested in MK vs DCU because I didn't like the cross over (still don't), it's as bad as Soul Calibur and the Star Wars mix (another topic for another time).. but for 15 euros I wasn't going to complain especially if it let me have MK on my xbox 360.

So the other day I popped it in my 360 and decided to check it out. First thing I did was head over to the arcade game mode and check out the character select screen. Kitana was there (my favorite MK character) and so was Sonya Blade but Mileena, Sindel and Jade were missing.. no doubt replaced by the crap that DC had to offer.

I decided to play through arcade mode, chose Kitana and selected only MK opponents. (I'm really not interested in the DC ones) I start working my way to the top of the ladder and come across Sonya Blade. I actually didn't mind Sonya too much.. her and Kitana were the 2 character's I used to play the most and my brothers came to loathe Sonya's upward bicycle kick ;).

Well it seems Sonya has changed since those years. She's apparently hit the gym and come across a good sum of money to "enhance" herself a bit. As soon as the fight started I was taken a back by her ripped abs and her watermelon breasts.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Video of the Week: Just A Girl (who spied ass-chaps)

We're going to pretend I wasn't bad and totally forgot to blog about my last 2 videos ok? :p (So Cold and Call Me When You're Sober).

This week's video was "Just A girl" by No Doubt, the good Ol' Tragic Kingdom No Doubt that was the one of the first CDs I had ever purchased (which was a big deal at the time because cassette tapes were still used and around).

Overall I found this (as with most old No Doubt songs) easy for me. My real problem was actually preventing myself from "over-singing" the song. By that I mean singing it so enthusiastically that the game was not happy with my singing. Sadly because of my enthusiasm it took a few takes, but it wasn't because it was difficult.

I kind of took this song in full stride, I mean I am indeed a girl and when I was 13 it was a great "motto" song of sorts. I sported my "Things you learn from video games" t-shirt so show my female gamer spirit.

One thing though that I did NOT expect in the entire recording of this video was a male character in a pair off ass-chaps.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vocal Covers? Do I dare?

Hey guys. I know this really doesn't have a whole lot to do with gaming but I don't have much other place to write about this so I'll blame this on the sexy microphone I received from the Team Cena sponsors.

I've been singing/playing vocals on Rock Band for sometime now, I also (as you know) have been posting videos of myself playing the game for a while too. I know that being good at the game on vocals doesn't make you a good singer. It's more or less like an advanced karaoke where you have a pitch line to follow that hopefully prevents you from sounding less bad than a tone deaf monkey.

I've kind of hid behind the game, this was a way I could post videos of myself playing it and having fun knowing that I wasn't really trying to impress anyone with my singing or anything. I know covers are a whole other world and open to more criticism and possibly rude comments.

Another reason I've never attempted covers is the kind of music I like generally has a classically trained soprano vocalist. Being that my only experience involves singing in a car or when I'm by myself this hasn't exactly been a welcoming domain to enter. I'm not into pop music too much (which would be much easier to sing) and the vocalists I like are just jaw-droppingly impressive. On the other hand this mic is so awesome that I HAD to test it out especially knowing that such vocals were too overpowering for the microphone I had previously.

So this is a partial cover of Amberian Dawn's Passing Bells. I just was singing it for fun and thought I was recording the whole thing to compare mic quality when I realized for some reason I had only a partial recording (hence why this is "partial"). I guess it is a good way to see if I should even bother trying covers of such music and/or if my youtube subscribers are even interested.

Either way whether you think it is bad or not, bet your ass I'm doing ALL of Amberian Dawn's DLC from the Rock Band Network for my youtube Rock Band videos. And if I DO do more covers in the future know that they won't all be Amberian Dawn and they will probably be much less frequent.

Should I bother pursuing covers? I know for sure I need more practice, but would you be interested?

OSP DL-340 Dynamic Vocal Microphone, a Sexy Beast.

Photobucket Monday I received a little surprise in the form of a package. It was my new microphone sent to me by two of Team Cena's new sponsors: Rock Band Parts and ROADIE Music Game Gear.

This gesture really touched me as we in Team Cena never really expected to receive anything, but not too long after the announcement of the acquisition of these sponsors was made we were told to be expecting something from them. This is what I was sent, and yes.. IT IS PURPLE! ^^

It is a professional grade microphone and has been compared to shure microphones. As it is a "real" microphone a special cable is needed to make it work with my xbox which was also sent to me along with a clip for my mic stand. Sadly the mic clip I was sent was not compatible with my mic stand. Luckily though I live literally across the street from a music store. I took my mic with me to be sure that I'd get a clip that would fit and when the owner of the store saw it he was impressed (that says a lot right there). "Where did you get such a microphone? The internet? It's really nice and I've never seen one in that color before".

I could be really redundant and tell you everything I have already said in a video but I'm going to just leave my video to tell you.

I have actually (since this video) managed to find a way to activate by cupping my hands around the mic and "whoo!"ing into it.

This is the exact microphone and cable available for purchase here:

The XLR to PC, Mac, PS2, Wii, PS3, XBOX 360 cable (only):

The Rhythm Game reviewer (and Owner of Team Cena) Cena has reviewed this cable here:
RBP Premium Mic and Cord Kit Review

There is a mini-version of this microphone which is available in 1 extra color than the larger ones (pink):
OSP DL-310 Mini Mic w/Cable (not the XLR to console cable)

If you're wondering whether or not a professional microphone is really better than the standard Guitar Hero/Rock band microphone you can also check this comparison by Cena out:
Professional Mic Vs. Rock Band/Guitar Hero Mic

My beloved 360, is that really you?

I apologize once again for the extremely late update.. I've had a lot of things going on with wedding anniversaries, and the return of my 360! Though I'm not sure it is mine.. but more on that in a bit.

So as you may remember Thursday, February 4, 2010 I posted that my xbox was only 20 miles away.. I did in fact receive my xbox that day. Total it took less than 1 week from ship date to return date. I'm throughly impressed.

I was curious how that box I sent out would come back to me, but it didn't. They actually sent me a new box with proper Styrofoam holders in it for the 360. You can bet I am holding on to this box in case (heaven forbid) I should need it again.

Microsoft sent me the standard letter apologizing for the inconvenience and thanking me for being a member of the xbox community (aww). They also included a 1 month xbox gold subscription. I worried a bit that this may be a European redeem code being that I live in Europe. The only problem is that my xbox live account is American (as I'm American and had purchased the subscription in the US). The card however is written in English and Spanish, while typical in the US the standard in Europe is generally French and English so I have a smidgen of hope it is either not region specific or a US one.

After checking out the paper contents of the box (with no sign of that infamous pink slip saying they replaced my xbox with a refurbished one) I took out my xbox and checked the serial. Still the same. Good. Except the whole label was different. No longer did it have a manufacture date but a "service date". While it makes sense it meant that the ENTIRE label on the back of the xbox was not the original one and could indeed hide that it was replaced. I removed the xbox from it's box and put it back in its home in my entertainment center.

First thing I noticed was the faceplate. My old one was broken. The door that hid the USB ports when not in use had lost it's springy-ness ages ago and was always stuck in the down position. I didn't mind having a pretty new one, maybe they replaced my old broken one?

My suspicions about possibly receiving a refurbished 360 started to become more firm as I plugged in and turned on my xbox.

I had to update lots of things with my xbox as soon as I turned it on which had me more and more convinced this was not my xbox. I had a method to check easily if the console was considered as mine. All my DLC that I have for Rock Band is divided across 2 xbox live accounts. One my US one that is gold and I play on and my silver French account that I needed in order to buy more points since I could not put a French credit card on my US account. As I popped in Rock Band I noticed right away it was playing from the disc and not the HDD where I had it installed. As you can see in the message above I was told that this game could only be played on the HDD and console it was originally installed on. My heart sank.

However once I started Rock Band up all my DLC played normally without me having to log both my accounts to have access to all of it (as I had to do on my friend's console when I stuck my HDD on it). That meant that either it WAS my 360 (albeit "brainwashed") or that at least Microsoft had taken the liberty to handle my licenses.

That wasn't all though. I USED to be able to listen to the mp3s on my computer in another room on my xbox in the living room (which is connected to a stereo). I can no longer do that. I was forced to reinstall the windows media center and link my xbox to my computer but it never works, just freezes and every time I try to access my computer from my xbox I am told to verify I have registered my console on my computer (I have). This problem is still unresolved. I'm afraid I'm going to have to call someone and try to get some assistance, hopefully it is someone who speaks English clearly and fluently? ;)

For now I have an xbox, it works I can play my games.. but is it really the one I sent off earlier? I think I'll never know..

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Xbox 360 Repairs: A German Vacation

I've been a bit bad about keeping up with my xbox's trip to Microsoft for repairs. I honestly thought I'd have a lot of time to write it, but surprisingly (in the good way) it seems my time is ticking.

As I mentioned previously due to hang ups with Microsoft (getting a shipping label) and UPS, my xbox actually began it's journey to the Microsoft repair center in Frankfurt, Germany on Friday January 29th.

I did my best to pack her well for the trip (my xbox has suddenly become a "she"). My most difficult task actually was finding a box to send it in. Microsoft no longer sends "coffins", so I was left to my own devices which included harassing every store in town for an empty box and weird, empty stares as I tried to explain I just wanted an empty box in broken French. When I finally found my words (I kept asking for a "boite vide" but it turned out I needed to ask for "carton vide") I learned much to my disappointment that most the stores had already threw out their boxes to a recycle company that morning. I was sure I was screwed to wait another week before I could send my xbox, but I pressed on.

I eventually came to a book store where a woman seemed really kind and not annoyed to help me find a box (the other stores/employees must of thought I was insane). She helped me find a decent sized box that was pretty sturdy (it was made for shipping books). The only downside was that the box had been opened strangely.. instead of opening it from a constructed flap, they had just cut a "door" on one side of the box. I wasn't sure, but I knew I had to make it work.

To pack my xbox up I used some bubble wrap I had lying around. It was actually the kind with HUGE bubbles that I had used in the past to ship my PC from the US to France so I was pretty confident that it was trustworthy. I wrapped my xbox with the bubble wrap which was long enough to reach two opposing ends of the box, making a snug fit. There was some empty space that I filled with Styrofoam peanuts that my husband had brought from work.

The tricky part was sealing the box and making sure when Microsoft received it that they opened it the way it had been sealed. I managed to scribble "do not open here" on every part that you THOUGHT would be logical to open it from, and "open this side" on the one place that didn't make sense. I wrote in English and hoped that would suffice. I also needed to make sure that UPS did not handle the box with the "door" side on bottom as it wasn't strong enough. So I drew an "up" arrow and once again hoped.

UPS came and took her away on Friday January 25th. I was sure I'd never see her again.. I had heard horror stories of waiting months and how you always get back someone else's refurbished xbox, but the repair process had been started and I had to follow it through. I wrote down her serial number and will verify whether or not I get MY xbox back or some impostor.

I followed her journey to Germany via UPS's tracking system. I was pleasantly surprised to see she arrived at her destination the next Monday (Feb. 1). The next day I received a confirmation e-mail from Microsoft saying that had my xbox and that repairs had been started. Wednesday I looked again to see how she was doing and nearly wet myself when I read "console shipped back". Seeing as how I started to realize how much I took my xbox for granted and have been struggling with Rock Band withdrawal I had to hold myself back from being too overjoyed. Maybe it was so fast because they just sent me another xbox?

Today I checked on the status (Feb. 4) and checked the tracking number after poking from my Dutch friend of win who reminded me it had one, and noticed that it had actually moved and at 8:30am this morning is only 20 something miles away. I can't help but feel anxious that perhaps I will receive my xbox today but at the same time I am trying to be realistic and not allow myself to hope too much that it comes today as it may not and it may not even be MY xbox..

I'm wondering how that box I sent it in worked out.. did they manage to figure out how to open it and reseal it back? The site said they sent it back in the box you send it in.. we will see.. I'm hoping "in transit" means it is in the truck on its daily route.

Customer Service/Support: Native Language PLEASE!

This blog is a bit of a rant with all that I had to put up with to send in my xbox for repairs..

So to recap:

I had called to get my xbox 360 repaired for the E74 error. I had a representative whom I could barely understand. She must of been from some African country.. she was VERY nice but the process took forever because I had to keep making her repeat and she wasn't understanding all I was saying either. I ended up having to call back right after because the e-mail I received gave me a number to UPS in the UK (I live in France) and I got another woman who was equally difficult to understand who gave me the French UPS number and told me I should receive my shipping label in 24 hours.

48 hours later and STILL no shipping label (with it already being Monday Jan. 25th now) I had to call back customer support. This time Lo' and Behold I got a guy from the UK who was clear and easy to understand. He canceled my previous repair ticket and opened a new one. He got me a new shipping label sent that I IMMEDIATELY received after the phone call.

Time wasted with outsourced customer support: 48 hours
Time spent with native customer support: 10 minutes

Once I got the label my next order of business was to call UPS and schedule a pick up. My French is a bit iffy and making people have to deal with talking to me after I just saw how it was to talk to non-native English speakers was not something I was interested in. So I asked my husband (who is French) to call and handle it for me.

He informed me that like me, he had called and gotten some random African country too.. they said that they would pick up my xbox on Thursday anywhere from 9am to 6pm. I dragged my ass out of bed early on Thursday and as 5:45pm rolled around I was pissed. My husband was at work but I called him to ask him to call UPS and make sure they were coming.

He called me back and informed me that THIS time he managed to get a hold of a native French speaker who told him that there was no such request for a scheduled pick up and went ahead and scheduled one for the next day for anytime from 2pm- 5pm.

3pm On Friday rolled around and at 3pm UPS was at my door to take my xbox.

Time wasted with outsourced customer service:
48 hours
Time spent with native customer service: 21 hours

The lesson here is simple. I have nothing against people who don't speak a language natively or fluently (I'm one to talk as my French is HORRIBLE) but for fuck's sake companies.. please STOP outsourcing your customer service to other doesn't seem to accomplish anything and you you waste my time by doing it.