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Mailbag MP3 Player

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-01-16 08:18:42

Another Audio Product

I had intended on continuing Wedge's existential crisis, but this question had to be answered. In actually, as liberating as nudity is, I do generally follow the conventions of covering one's naughty bits. The reason why I clip that player to my glasses is because I take my shirt off when I shave my head. That is, in fact, a freshly shorn noggin in today's strip. Hehheh...strip.

Today, I'd like to turn people onto the Tritton AX360 headset. I do the bulk of my gaming after my family has gone to bed, and I rarely get to enjoy my surround sound setup anymore. I'm sure many of my fellow gamers are in a similar situation:

1) Needing to use earphones of some kind
2) Hating doubling up with the Xbox Live communicator headset, looking stupid AND feeling uncomfortable
3) Wanting surround sound to hear that motherhunch sneaking up behind you

Well, the Tritton headset is the best product that currently provides a solution to all of these needs, at a reasonable price point. Ignore the ridiculously overpriced Turtle Beach or Vibras ripoffs. They might have the endorsements and the retail shelf space, but the little-known Tritton is comparable or even better at half the cost.

The Tritton headset combines Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound with an Xbox Live microphone. It requires an AC adapter to power the decoder, and the surround sound is very effective. I'd still rather crank up my theater speakers, but I'm quite satisfied with the Tritton as the next best alternative. The audio quality itself could be better, but it's reasonably good considering the price point. Unless you're a nerdcore audiophile, you'll most likely be pleased at the audio fidelity.

The two drawbacks are that you'll need to fiddle with settings for optimal performance, and that you're tethered to a cord. The volume controls for each of the six channels is built into the wire, and they need to be balanced according to your needs. Call of Duty 4 and Rock Band definitely require different audio balances. You'll also need to futz with in-game audio settings, as the Xbox Live voice communication needs to be set to come over the general output.

This headset also isn't exclusively for use with the Xbox 360. It can receive any optical or coaxial digital input. In my theater system, I've got my Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, and DVD player all hooked up to a switcher box, that now outputs both to my receiver for normal use, and the Tritton for late night activity. So if you're watching Blackhawk Down on Blu-Ray at three in the morning, these are also useful for not disturbing housemates with the surround sound digital chatter of bullets and RPGs whizzing by your head.

They're not perfect, but at "only" $100, the Tritton headset receives a Rank A grade.

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-01-15 05:42:13

Diplomacy - Fall 1905

Play the home version by following these forum threads!

Note: the lighting makes it difficult to see, but a German fleet is in the Norwegian Sea.

Now this was a fascinating turn, with Germany continuing to expand, and a complete reversal of fortunes in the east, with Austria's shocking ascendancy over Turkey.

Just as England finally regains the whole of its island, it appears to be in serious threat of elimination once again. England survived the previous multi-national assault by working with Germany along mutually beneficial paths. Now that the two nations' goals have come into conflict, the German war machine looks prepared to absorb England. I'll elaborate further in the German section.

France is now down to two supply centers. They remain as unpredictable as ever. I, as Germany, produced a fourth naval unit in expectation of French interference in the invasion of England, but France opted to retain its two Iberian units instead. Their remaining fleet is placed to harm or aid Italy - depending on France's fickle whimsy.

Italy took a significant blow, as their attempt to seize Spain failed and Turkey marched into Rome. Trapped between several major powers, their options are limited as they scurry to regain their capitol.

Austria, once arguably on the brink of elimination, has catapulted into second place with seven supply centers. In addition, their positions are vitally strategic, and they are now prepared to not only rebuff Ottoman incursions, but to take the fight to Turkey itself. With Germany busy with England, it's clear that they hope to impose their will upon Asia Minor.

Turkey, ah Turkey... They made any number of questionable decisions in the last turn: not following up their bold move into Rome by also capturing Naples, and leaving Sevastopol open, but they plumb forgot to take the freebie Greece. In this zero sum game, this single failure to act was a drastic two-point switch. The resulting alignment is even defensively poor for Turkey. Nevertheless, they still do possess six centers/units and the corner position, so Turkey's fate is far from sealed.

Russia continues to survive. They made the only sensible decision - pop into the open Sevastopol and pray that a standoff of invading forces in Moscow results in doubling their territory. Only half of that happened, as Austria claimed Moscow, but it's still astonishing that Russia has not yet been eliminated. Cue the Benny Hill music.

Germany has now swelled to eleven, at England's expense. If you check the record of orders, you'll see that they tried to take Belgium which would only have been possible with German support. Instead, the bastardly Germans (me) took it for themselves, in addition to yoinking Brest. What's funny is that Kang (the British player) and I know each other intimately well (I'm not sure if I'm Superman and he's Bizarro or the other way around), and he expected it. However, he couldn't NOT take the risk of betrayal, because it was his only shot at meaningfully getting back into the game. I also knew that he couldn't not take that risk, which further intensified the impetus of my decision to backstab him. Had our positions been reversed, it would've resulted the same way, even with the both of us knowing how it would end.

I hope you don't get shafted so hard next game, Kang. At least the players responsible took some shaft as well, eh? ;)

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