Friday, November 18, 2005

Smoking: The Assault Continues

11.18.05 - As if the campaign to drive cigarette smokers to the fringe weren't enough, now 32 Attorney Generals are asking movie studios to add anti-smoking messages to upcoming DVD releases featuring smoking in repsonse to new research showing that movie actors' smoking spurs youth to light up.

Does this remind you of another case in which some people blame society's ills on pop culture? How about those who claim, with no solid evidence, that playing violent video games leads youngsters to commit violent crimes?

This is another attempt by a self-righteous few to dictate what we should and shouldn't do. Smoking in movies is not glamourized; it is used to portray a character. Youth imitate many behaviors they see in film and on TV. Does that mean we should let that affect scripts and screenplays and limit writers' imagination?

We don't need warning labels on every product we consume. We need common sense and an open mind.

PC Games: F.E.A.R. - Be Afraid!

11.18.05 - One of the most awaited computer games this year is making a lot of eager gamers mad. Unfortunately, I am one of them.

Before I get into the details, let me warn you: being a computer-game fan can be hazardous to your health. You spend serious money on hardware and software, gambling that things will work smoothly, only to discover you are stuck with a useless, defective product that you cannot even return for a refund (retailers won't take back opened software.) You're a loser even before you take the plunge.

Since I bought a copy of F.E.A.R., I barely had a chance to enjoy it. After I successfully installed it, I enjoyed playing game on my fast new computer, with the top-of-the-line video card, the NVidia 7800GTX. Then, without warning, the game started stuttering and gameplay became choppy, rendering the game unplayable. I have spent days, literally, replacing my video card, installing a new power supply, updating drivers, talking to the hardware's tech support—but the problem persisted.

After reinstalling Windows, I attempted to reinstall the game. Then the frustration really started: the game would not to install! Repeatedly generating indecipherable error messages, the game refused to complete its installation. I spent hours trying to figure out the problem—to no avail.

The game's tech support site and user forums proved useless, offering solutions that didn't work to scores of frustrated gamers. More hours wasted only to hit a brick wall.

I spent hundreds of dollars for a new computer, and countless hours trying to solve these problems, just to play one lousy game. And after all that, I still cannot play it!

Do I feel helpless? No, I feel impotent. I feel like screaming.

The next time you plan to invest your money, time and effort in a computer game, remember you do so at your own risk. Ask yourself: Is it worth it?