Monday, August 22, 2011

Revisiting the dusty shelf and some new games!

So lately I've been really out of the gaming scene. As much as I want to pick up the controller and start playing, life is too crammed as it is to go on a gaming rager. That didn't stop me from picking up some cheapy games and revisiting some classics. These aren't going to be in review format per se, but just a quick post about what I've put back in.

Super Smash Bros. Melee - GameCube -
The best of the SSB trilogy in my opinion. Brawl was a catastrophic failure that left me hanging. I liked the new characters better than some of the ones Melee brought such as Snake, Pit and Sonic. Whereas Melee had the duplicate characters. Dr. Mario & Mario; Ganondorf & Capt. Falcon; Pikachu & Pichu; etc.
But Melee was a drastic change over the original Smash, where Brawl didn't bring anything new to the table over Melee. Just items, stages and characters but Melee felt massive compared to the first. I was hoping Brawl would bring that same scope, but it didn't.

Animal Crossing - GameCube -
Guilty pleasure #92. Animal Crossing. I still feel this will be the best one ever made in the series. Wild World made everything a chore where the GCN Animal Crossing felt pure and fun. And trying to get home to sell your turnips before they wilted? The stalk market was nowhere near as fun when it was in your pocket at all times.

Borderlands GOTY Edition - 360
Borderlands is one of those games I stopped playing and I can't remember a good reason why. Now with all the DLC out, I figured the best way to get back into this one was to buy the Game of the Year edition which includes all DLC. For $40, I won't complain.

Fallout: New Vegas - 360
Fallout 3 definitely ranks as a game that stole much time for me. But time is always spent well in the Wasteland.
I rented New Vegas on its release, on understanding a different studio had their hands on it. First impressions were awful and it was super buggy. I understand patches have been released and there is good DLC; plus it was $20 brand new.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quick Response Codes - Why are they everywhere?

Some of you might have run across a QR or quick response code in your day to day life. I had seen these things EVERYWHERE until I finally decided to download an app for my Android phone to see what the hype was all about. The truth is, once you scan a few, you actually see their usefulness.

QR codes read very clearly even on a cell phone camera and they read fast. What the text can be could be anything you want. And creating a QR code is as easy as ever, with online tools and mobile phone applications carrying the ability to create your own codes to share with friends. The one above is my own, linking to this blog, actually.
Most of the time you see these out in your travels, they will like be a URL address sending you to the manufacturers website for anything, additional product information or maybe even a contest. Everyone seems to be hopping on the bandwagon.
Personally, as useful as these little guys are and their ability to be placed on anything without cramming up additional space, I have to say we probably won't see them around too much longer. If these are still in rampant use in 3 years, I will be surprised. No doubt they will continue to be in use considering the leaps the smartphone market is making, but it won't be widespread like you see it now. But what's to lose? It's fast, cuts to the chase and right now almost everything has it for some reason. Why not download a reader to your smartphone and find out today?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ableton Tips & Tricks #....4? Let's go with 4 haha.

So I couldn't really find out a tutorial on this particular subject, and this is a new thing to me too. But a few of my DJ buddies are telling me about "PA" style DJing and how enjoyable it is to play.
In a nutshell, PA style means you have loads of clips loaded in Ableton or your program of choice, you select certain loops out of those songs, play that loop alongside other loops from other clips, as well as building drum beats and loops to go with your clips. So if you like a certain 20 second pattern from a song and think it would go really well with another clip, you can play those together and loop it. Then slowly change your drum loops and patterns, then select another clip and layer them. If you have the material to build off of, you can make a whole live set for an hour long with constantly evolving clips and sounds.
Here's a simple way to get you accustomed to playing this way.

Step 1: Open a new project in Ableton Live, and open any number of Audio tracks you feel comfortable with.
To get started, I just opened 3 for now.

Step 2: Find your music that you want to clip out, and add it into the Audio tracks. Wherever is fine, just remember you can't play two clips in the same stack.

Step 3: I recommend getting about 8 files in your Audio tracks, and listening to them together. The ones that sound good together, make sure they can play at the same time in Ableton.

Step 4: Open up an 808 drum kit and build some drum loops that mesh or play off your clips.

Step 5: Mix and match, eventually you'll find some that really sound good together.

And really, its that simple. You can play the same loops for many bars then change one clip or one drum pattern and you'll always have a different sound. Put enough clips in a set and you will never play the same music twice.
I would've loved to link everyone to a video tutorial but I could not find one. I do not know much about this "PA" style, and it might not even be called that. I never did find out how its spelled :P
I would be more than happy to create a video tutorial for this, but I don't know much about recording from computer screens. Anyone know a good trial program that won't have watermarks all over it?

To close out, here's an artist I've really been liking lately.


I understand most people will believe this blog is dead, however; this last week I had intended to do frequent updates until I received the news that my manager at the day job was taking a last minute vacation and I had to step in. And when you work graveyards 10 nights in a row, you really wanna sleep in between. Here's a thank you to any current and new followers; yes I have been very infrequent but we are back and will have updates. Should have another Ableton tutorial up today or tomorrow. Thank you ALL.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Unlimited Detail Real-Time Rendering - Or really cool graphics

Hey guys, I know the posts have been few and far between but I haven't forgot about you.
I also know a lot of my recent posts have been related to music, and not so much tech. So here's something that's been receiving a lot of attention recently.
Its called 'Unlimited Detail Real-Time Rendering.' And it could be the next great advance in computer graphics.
Last year, a company named "Euclideon" came out with a technology demo demonstrating the power of their graphics capability. They use this 'unlimited detail rendering' by, instead of using a polygon and using several polygons to create what you what see in say, a video game world for example, all shapes are comprised of many  'atoms' which allows 'point cloud data' to make something that looks better than anything present in most current technology. A year went by and most people compared their claims like vaporware. A well planned hoax or perhaps they weren't as ahead as they led people to believe.
Euclideon came back on the tech world's radar when they released this video to YouTube a mere 4 days ago.

They have been hard at work to come up with this demo, with several comparisons of the graphics technology with current games today. Everything seems pretty impressive thus far, and indeed this could be the next big thing. Several people are already deeming it impossible to run in real time; remember, this demo is like a still image. There is no motion occurring. And because of that, the nay-sayers are telling us that it would be impossible to run this on any typical or above average consumer PC. The end of the video claims they have run tests at 20 FPS, but we haven't seen that yet.
What do you guys think? Is the technology real here? Is it soon?

-Personally, I think its a step but its far from hitting the masses. The claims of the kit being released to game developers within the next few months is quite a heavy statement. Although they did disappear and came back with this, its hard to say whether this will actually be industry standard any time soon. I think they're legitimate and everything is real, but the claims beyond what is shown are too high.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The 411 on mashups

I've decided after much screwing around in Ableton that my next project is going to be a mashup. I'm having trouble narrowing down 2 or 3 songs to put together but I feel I'm making progress somewhere.
In my own words, mashups are all about making harmony between multiple songs (it's not uncommon to see 4 songs worked together to create 1 strong track) and making it sound great without it sounding forced.
One good example that I've really been getting into lately is "Rolling in the Fire" by Wick-It the Instigator, which pairs up Adele's most recognized work "Rolling in the Deep" and the classic "Fire" by Ohio Players.
It has a great opening and the vocals really roll with the song. Some might insist it's more of a "remix" but I feel its a good example of what to expect.
I also have found a great tutorial for Ableton Live if any of you have been interested by reading my reviews and posts,
It's a very lengthy tutorial but it's chock full of good info.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Movie - Friends With Benefits

The other night me and some friends hit the movie theater without a clue of what to see. We had all seen different movies, and the one none of us had seen yet was Friends With Benefits.
I was reluctant but I am a Mila Kunis fan so I figured what the hell :P
Surprisingly entertaining, Justin Timberlake isn't that terrible of an actor. Who knew a former N-Sync member would turn out so...normal?
The movie follows a routinely common romantic comedy formula but adds some things to deviate from the usual, as well as making the movie self aware of the genre that's over-flooded with feel good movies of its kind.
For a romantic comedy I actually quite enjoyed it. Modern twists on a worn out movie genre kept it interesting to watch, and the chemistry between Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake is enough to make you watch until the end. If you find yourself at the theater not knowing what to see, maybe this one is for you. Otherwise, at least rent it when it comes out. Not a bad flick by any means!

Monday, July 25, 2011

My first true creation with Ableton Live

After a month and a half or so of messing around in Ableton, I feel pretty comfortable navigating around the program and creating some simple things. Today after forcing myself to sit for a few hours and make some real progress, I present, my first somewhat-ish track. The track was created by using simple loops and drum patterns I made from scratch (woo!)
Not really sure what genre it's supposed to fall under but I really want to make something branch off of this. My major beef with it thus far is there is no transition at the 54 second mark where the sound changes. It also needs to sound much fuller and have an actual direction somewhere, but I'm looking forward to expanding on the track and coming back with a polished product to show here. 

Any further suggestions, or any Ableton plugin recommendations you have are all welcome. 
Remember, just a beginner here, but I'm open to all criticisms.

Google's next logical step in world domination - Social Networking

Futurama fans! Remember the recent episode from the newer season that ripped off Twitter and Mom Corp. used everyone's frequent updates to delve into the populations life for their own purpose?
Google must have been taking their notes, 'cause Google+ is here and not losing any steam.

Cartoon allusions aside, I finally got a friend to invite me aboard last night and I've been checking out what it has to offer. And the great part is; it doesn't take that much time to do that!
It's streamlined; minimalist; direct. It's Facebook without page ads and useless apps. It's clean like Twitter but without a ridiculous character limit. Definitely one of my favorite things the internet has brought this year.
I enjoy its easy interface, familiar social networking key words. So far, there isn't much I don't enjoy. I have my few quirks with it but overall it's a great experience.

One thing that I don't quite catch, but maybe it will come to me in time, is how it deviates from the usual and familiar "friends list." It borrows off Twitter's following system; you following someone doesn't mean they follow you back unless they manually decide to do that. It's a quick process and you can even organize everyone into groups as you add them into your "circle." But considering the terms of service states specifically that the account must be for you and not a business or anything, the having to add people back seems like an extra step.
I also don't get why it's in the trial stages and invite only. It seems about finished up to me, and most of the people who are interested will migrate over if they haven't already. Most of their demographic should come from the tech buffs who've been paying attention. Those who are just now hearing about it, you are probably not interested anyway.
But all in all, it's a great answer to the other social networking mediums out there. I'm sure one of your friends has an invite already, so just ask and ye shall receive! Go see the buzz of Google+.

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ramblings - Thoughts on Norway Mass Murder

Alright, I know my posts haven't had much substance lately and to everyone following I do apologize. Maybe this will redeem some of that.
I'd like to share my thoughts on the recent incident where upwards of 80 to 90 teens were killed by a single man in Utøya, Norway.
My condolences go out to them, the ones affected and to those about to be affected by the reprecussions of this mans actions.
On the other hand, I'm tired of seeing every European stick up for what happened while there was blatant disregard for 9/11. Yes, I am American, and most people would think I'm some redneck hick. One citizen does not speak for all, one state does not speak for all. And I realize not everyone was bashing 9/11 when it happened, but plenty of people were telling us to quit our whining. I don't want to group everyone in the same pile, but generalization and stereotypes happen to us, so lets return the favor, shall we? I'll probably end up sounding like a huge dick in this post, but this is my opinion.
Welcome to the club. A tragedy has befallen your country, your nation. And now it really hits home.
To those who reside in Norway you have my full respect and condolences, but just know that your country is not above attacks of this nature; no one is.
If the world would quit its hipster-like elitism and superiority complex, maybe peace would be a step closer for us all.
If I had my choice, maybe I wouldn't be in the US. But I was born here, I live here, I am a law-abiding citizen. I may not be a nationalistic moron, but I'm here and make the best of it.

Another great webcomic - Three Panel Soul

Not as wordy as Questionable Content, and it strictly follows, like its name suggests, the "three panel" comic.
The art is great and the humor is also on par. I'm not sure if it gets updated all the time, but going off the archives, the comics only came once a week if you were lucky.
Here's the archives if you guys wanna browse some,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ableton Tutorial - Beginner's guide - Dance style drum beat

So I've really been trying to dig into Ableton lately and get around to making some tracks, whether I like them or not; more just to familiarize myself with the program and be able to create tracks the way I want to.

I like this tutorial a lot because the directions are very clear for beginners. If you need more beginner than this, Sonic Academy has a whole series of Ableton Live tutorials, including ones that just explain the interface and don't get into beat making or anything.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Webcomics - Questionable Content

I wasn't sure what to write about next until it hit me the other day. I was a longtime reader of the webcomic 'Questionable Content' and I somehow missed out months of their material. This led to me sitting down for a good couple hours and catching up with the comic and all the characters.
Questionable Content features plenty of dry humor, literacy and musical references plentiful.
The comic is accessible to lots of people. The characters are intricate but have plenty of fill-in-the-blanks so it's easy to find yourself or friends to take the place of them. Most of the characters seem to be into indie rock but you'll find allusions to everything. It's really hard to sum this comic up simply. If you are interested within the first 50 strips, you won't stop reading until you've caught up.
And when you start from strip #1, trust me, the art might be unbearable at first but it gets better quick.
If you like sarcasm, indie music, plain humor, wrapped up in a well written and well drawn package, then it might be worth checking out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Artist spotlight - Birdy Nam Nam

Hmm well I suppose in hopes of curing writers block I can write about one of my favorite artists lately.
They're called Birdy Nam Nam, a DJ group from France. The thing I love about them, and as good as they sound, is the way they produce. 4 guys, each with a turntable and different vinyl records, combine their sounds together to craft their work. I can't even fathom how much time it takes to find sounds that work off of each other. Here's a music video for one of their songs, "The Parachute Ending."

This is not the album version though, this one is shorter by about 2 minutes.
Definitely something to check out if you're into electronic music of any kind.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another update from mobile - BRB

Hey everyone I had meant to do an update today but I'm afraid today got busy, so AWB will catch up with you tomorrow! Thanks for the continued support and to the new followers, we'll get you back! Thanks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones

Figured I would give a quick write up of my recent purchase of my beloved headphones, Audio Technica's ATH-M50s.

These have fantastic sound quality, and although they are listed as monitoring headphones, I bring these everywhere I go and they're good for listening, mixing, recording; pretty much a universal headphone.
Even for long listening, the extra thick padding makes for a comfortable fit. The seal is great and no outside noise will bother you even at a low volume.
If my previous posts about Ableton have you curious about music production, a good pair of headphones is a necessity. No computer speakers will ever match the sound quality and often times there's things that speakers won't even catch. For example when I use a very deep kick the sound is very short and hardly interesting, but with the headphones its a clear, deep bassy tone which is exactly what I want.

MSRP puts these at $199 but once again, Guitar Center purchase, they had them for $160. These are a recommendation from me, however, headphones often are all about preference. Sometimes you don't know why you're drawn to a certain pair, but it all comes to personal choice and comfort. Audio Technica is a stellar brand, but make sure if you're going to spend the money, spend it on what you really want.

**Note: These pair, ATH-M50 have two versions, an "ATH-M50" and "ATH-M50s". The "s" in "M50s" denotes that that pair is a straight cable meaning the cable is not coiled. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Favicons - What, how and why?

If you've ever been to a website and noticed a little icon next to the URL that changes with each website, and ever wondered what that was, well now you know. They're called "favicons."

An example of Wikipedia's favicon, using the "W" as a logo.
I recently saw that Blogger has support for favicons and wanted to share with fellow bloggers out there that you can use one.
Favicons just add a little personal touch to your site or blog, and maybe even a bit of branding if you've made a name for yourself.
Most commonly they are found in 16x16 pixel size and can be made with any graphics program, even MS Paint if you're desperate. There are also plenty of online generators to make your own, such as this one:
Note: If you use that link, downloading the icon saves in an .ico extension, which Blogger didn't take. Convert into a familiar image type, (i.e, .jpg, .gif, .png, etc.)
These are also viewable in the blog update reader, so I hope to see some of these on your blogs!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite death metal bands released their newest album.
'Ritual' by The Black Dahlia Murder, their fifth studio album to date.

Those familiar with the current metal scene have probably heard the name, if not heard their material.
Of all their albums, I have to say this is one of my favorites, up there with 'Nocturnal' and 'Miasma', if not better. It's really a big step from their last effort 'Deflorate', which, wasn't terrible, wasn't great either.

It opens up with "A Shrine to Madness" with a slow building intro then transition into a guitar, then all the instruments drop in and the lyrics start.
A good opening song, then it goes right into my favorite song on the album, "Moonlight Equilibrium." Linked below. Listen to the part @ 1:30. Love that bass and guitar.

The whole album is great and I say anyone who is a death metal fan, if you have no music by TBDM yet, what are you waiting for?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Follow up to Ableton Live - Dubstep Tutorial

I typically hate to post Youtube videos and call it good content on a blog, but if you're just starting with Ableton, or you're curious to see what goes on inside, this video is an interesting watch.

Now, dubstep is hit or miss with people. There's many different types of dubstep in itself, but most will recognize wobble bass and other signature points of most dubstep.
IMO, it has become far too popular and a lot of it is starting to sound the same, however, that doesn't mean you can't create good dubstep, or that you can't learn anything from this tutorial.
At a glance, a dubstep song is pretty easy to get going.
-Set 140 BPM
-Kick/snare drum pattern
-Add a "wobble" bass line via any of Abletons built in synths.
-Add various drum loops, samples and patterns.
And boom you have a basic easy to make dubstep sound. If it sounds easy, it is once you learn your way around Ableton; but enough talk, check it out yourselves.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ableton Live 8

After posting about my MPK Mini keyboard, thought I'd give you guys a little spotlight on my favorite music making program, Ableton Live 8.

Ableton is a very intuitive and complex program, and is useful to anybody just starting to make music or to anybody seasoned in digital music production.
The possibilities are endless and I would recommend it to anyone.
But if you're new to this, there's several versions of Ableton that you can purchase or download that cost less than the full versions. 
The full versions, Live 8 and Suite 8, each run approx. $500 and $650, respectively.
There's an intro version for about $100, and a couple others inbetween. You can also find demo versions online, or stop into your local Guitar Center, where most counters in the DJ section have free trial versions at the counters.
Later today and tomorrow I will post a few video tutorials I have found to be useful, as well as some commentary on all of that.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

First post from mobile!

How nifty, posting from my Blogger Android app.
So today I figure I'd give a quick game review, I know everyone has it but I just picked it up yesterday. And that's Portal 2.
For anyone who knows who Valve is, already knows this game. I'm not really going to spend time explaining the whole game since its mostly common knowledge. Here's the short version.

Puzzle game + crazy gun that creates entry/exit portals on walls, ceilings, anywhere + makes you think + interesting story.

That covers all the bases. And this review will be a quickie.
So even after it being out a decent while, I was surprised, yet not surprised to still see the price tag of $60 USD. So being a Portal fan, I shelled out the money, reluctantly. All in all its a good play but its disappointingly short. They improved on a lot of things and added plenty of new elements to the levels, but still lacking in the actual length department. And the only replayability comes from the advanced levels, and co-op which I haven't tried yet.
Verdict; if you're a fan, you probably have it already.
If not, wait for a price drop.

Friday, July 8, 2011

MPK Mini by Akai Professional

So first post into music and music production, yesterday I picked up a little goodie for me, The Akai MPK Mini Production Keyboard. I use this with Ableton Live 8, have heard of this working with many other programs like Fruity Loops (after all, it is a MIDI keyboard, so all the keys are programmable within your program)

For the price point, I really like this device. Ran me about $90 at Guitar Center. It may not look like there's a lot of keys but you can switch the octaves down and hit all the ranges of a piano or full keyboard, just not instantly. I myself prefer the compact design.
Those who are doing music production on their computer or just getting started, this device will get you started in the right direction. If you're using Ableton, I would recommend getting this over a launch controller (APC20/APC40 by Akai, for example) as you won't have to map your keys to your computer keyboard any more. And the keys are velocity sensitive, meaning the harder you hit the key, the louder the sound produced.
It also includes 8 velocity sensitive pads which you can see above the keys. Actually, there's 16 pads because there's 2 banks of 8 pads each. These are my favorite feature because you can set effect racks, keys, drums, whatever you want and they feel much better than the keys.
Maybe I have to break it in some but the keys feel loose and takes a little bit of effort to strike the way you want to. Everything you record can be fixed in Ableton though, and the velocity of each key can be raised or lowered to your liking.
All in all, for the price, this is a great tool for the up and comer producer or DJ. Recommended!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

V2 Electronic Cigarette Review

This will probably be my last e-cig review for a while.

To start off, V2 is the e cigarette I've been relying on for the last few months to help me quit.
This will easily be my highest recommended brand to everyone wanting to try, I also have a discount code that provides 15% off your starter kit, as well as another to use to get 15% off any cartridges and accessories (but to my knowledge you won't get 30% combined for your starter kit)
Codes will be posted at the end of the review.

Battery: More of the top brands are starting to get on board and use batteries that are compatible with other brands' carts and accessories, so no need to stick to one brand if you wanna try more. V2 uses KR808-D1 batteries which are some of the better ones out there. A good weight and feel, long battery life, 2 piece design for starters. Pertaining to V2, you have tons of options in just batteries alone. Batteries come in 3 lengths, XL, Standard and Shorty. The Shorty most resembles a Blu battery and is good for those who want something more compact. The Standards are my personal favorite. They also stock the XL size which the only drawback is that it cannot fit in their portable charging case. You can also select from 3 colors in each length; black, white, and stainless steel. And on top of all this 2 options! Automatic and manual. I own both and they each have their advantages. The manuals seem to have shorter battery life but it all depends on how you use them. The automatics typically need a first priming puff to get the atomizer at optimal heat. Other than that, they work pretty evenly. These are great batteries that last a long time and charge quick. The best I've tried.

Vapor Production/Ease of Draw: First off, the vapor you get from these things is crazy. Most people who I let try it and have never tried an e cigarette before usually cough on the first drag and are generally surprised by what it gave. You'll never be lacking anything in the vapor from these. And the ease of draw is perfect. They come shipped with a pretty easy draw, BUT, KR808 batteries have a neat function that allow you to take a flathead screwdriver and loosen or tighten the draw as you please. Pretty sweet!
To sum this one up, you can't complain. However vapor production can't always be perfect and ONCE in a while you'll catch a dud cartridge or encounter a minor problem. Typically an easy fix, but again, never perfect. Plus I can't give a perfect rating for everything here, otherwise I'll look like a robot :P

Flavors: Now let's talk about the flavors. At the time of writing this, V2 offers, 10, yes 10 flavors. This is great seeing as how some brands might offer 2-5 normally. We have V2 Red (Marlboro), V2 Sahara (Camel), Congress (Parliament), Menthol, Peppermint, Coffee, Vanilla, Cola, Cherry and Chocolate.
Like usual, I break these down individually and have tried every flavor. To make it easy, I'll list each one in order of preference, top being my favorites.
Menthol- Holy mint, Batman! These are the best preloaded menthol carts I have ever tried. Full, smooth, minty, delicious. "Vaping" one right now as I type. My favorite.
Peppermint- Wasn't sure what to think of this one but it is great! A little different than the menthol, much more peppermint "oomph" and a lot more sweeter tasting. 2nd favorite.
Cola- Everyone will probably have different opinions of this one but I found it to be quite good! Depending on what you're eating or drinking, sometimes the flavor doesn't quite hit you. But try vaping this and drinking a Coke, it's wonderful. One of the smoothest flavors they have.
V2 Sahara- Being mostly a former Camel smoker, these were sure to please. Strong and full, great throat hit.
Vanilla- Best vanilla of any brand I've tried. Most just taste like lightly sweetened oxygen, these surprisingly taste much like vanilla. Sweet and light. Using these between the other flavors creates a nice break and makes the next one really hit ya.
V2 Red- I did smoke the occasional Marlboro, and these are what they are trying to replicate. I'd say they did pretty damn good. V2's tobacco flavors are among the best quality and taste.
Coffee- Coffee tends to be some brands' better flavors. This one is somewhere in the middle. On first draw you may be surprised that this is only vapor you're inhaling, not coffee. I found it to be quite good. However my beef with it is that it doesn't have that full coffee hit to me. Maybe they need to base it off a stronger flavor/bean. How it is now, I think most people will like it.
Cherry- Between my starting with V2, and current use they have changed the cherry flavor. The old one was harsh, not much like cherry at all. The new cherry is much better but still a tad harsh and not perfect. I think if they gave this another redo it'd come out like you would expect. For now, it's towards the bottom of my list.
Congress- Never did I smoke a Parliament but I don't think these would taste like them anyway. They aren't bad, but they aren't great. I will pop one on here and there just to use it and see if I think any differently than before. To me it tastes like maple syrup. Not really sure why.
Chocolate- I wasn't expecting a great flavor here, and while some people may really like it, I found it to be lacking. The vapor just wasn't there, the flavor was a bit off. Didn't impress me at all. I guess many people like it but I can't recommend it. My least favorite.

Everyone will have different opinions on the flavors, and just because there's some I didn't enjoy doesn't mean the whole line is bad, and the ones that I love are enough for me to quit. That with just the sheer variety they have here, and that's enough for a good score.

Value and Options: There's lots to say here, I'll start with this; 5 starter kits. Yup you heard me. 5 options for starter kits. One is just a "couples" kit which is 2 standard kits, but of course cheaper. But even then you'll find one that's good to start with. Their cheapest kit comes with 1 battery and 5 cartridges and I can't say to get this one, when for $15 more you get the standard kit which has 2 batteries and 10 cartridges (you can select as many flavors as you have multiples of 5. Example if your kit has 10 carts, you can get 2 flavors [x5], 15 carts would allow you 3 flavors, etc)
They have the Travelers kit which is a standard kit with tons of accessories, but their Ultimate kit is just insane. For the price of some other companies basic kit, you get 3 batteries, 25 cartridges and every accessory you'll ever need, for $150.
The value on their cartridges is about par with most 2 piece designs, with a 5 pack at $10. You average $2 per cart, but the more you buy you get more of a discount and they have 5 packs, 20 packs, 40 packs, 80 packs and a sampler pack which is one of every flavor.
They also have a custom cartridge option which I don't see commonly. You have to buy 100 at a time and it runs you $220, but you can request ANY flavor you want if they don't carry it. I've seen people order Mountain Dew, pineapple, blueberry, lemonade, honey, and the list goes on.
They have an extensive list of accessories too, including a portable charging case which is a lifesaver on-the-go. It's a tad expensive compared to other charging cases, and the first one I bought was defective. However, it gave me a chance to deal with the customer service. Their customer service is among the best around, or so they claim, and I sent an email about the case. They responded with a couple questions in how I've tried to use it or charge it (the case would charge batteries, but once it ran dry the case itself would charge)
I got a replacement in about 4 days. And they were very kind the whole time.
I've talked about their batteries, and they carry also what is called a USB pass-through. These are USB powered, manual switch and never need charging! The difference in the 2 they offer is cord length.
Overall, it is staggering how much they offer, and the price they ask. You'll never get bored with V2 and all their stuff works great, and when it doesn't, CS is there to pick up the slack and make you a satisfied former smoker. Oh, did I mention a lifetime warranty?

OVERALL: 6.5/7

I say, if you're interested in a smoking alternative and want to skip Chantix and the patch, an e-cig is a cost effective method that have most people happy and quit successfully.
V2 is one of the top brands out there, the best I've tried and I cannot recommend them enough.
If you're serious about buying, I have those coupon codes I mentioned and my opinion on what to buy.

On a budget: If you're on a budget, want to try V2, I personally say SKIP the Economy kit which is $65. Instead, buy a USB pass-through (V2 calls them the Power-Cig and Notebook cig, respectively)
Each pass-through comes with 5 cartridges of your choice. For $25-$30, its a great way to try V2 and keep it penny friendly.

Best starter kit: I myself bought a Standard kit, which is $80 pre-coupon. 2 batteries, 10 cartridges, everything needed to get started. But after a while I was buying accessories left and right and I regretted getting this kit when I could have got the Travelers kit. The Travelers has to be V2's best kit IMO.
For $110 vs $80 for the Standard, you not only get 15 cartridges (5 more than the standard, which is $10) it includes the portable charging case ($45) AND a USB pass-through. ($30)
And a USB car adapter to those it matters to.
You're getting an extra $90 worth of stuff for paying $30 more. The math is there to me.
You can get the Ultimate kit which includes 3 batteries, all the accessories, 25 cartridges, the whole package.
But not everyone wants to spend $150 if they've never tried e-cigs before.
Advice; get the Travelers kit if you're serious.

----------Coupon codes----------
I have two coupons, one of which you'll receive with your kit.

To save 15% on whatever starter kit you decide on, use code 134667 at checkout.
To save 15% on any additional accessories (batteries, car charger, cartridges) then use sunisshining at checkout.
The sunisshining code is part of a coupon program that runs every month. Usually they send this on a card with your order every so often, and once with every kit. sunisshining expires 7/31/2011
I will do my part to update what code they use every month from here on.

Thank you again for reading what had to be my longest review. This will about do it for electronic cigarettes, and you will see a lot more about music, music production, gaming, movies and more.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

PureSmoke Review

Next up in my e-cig reviews is PureSmoke. This was the first e-cig I tried.

First impressions had me wondering. This was the first e-cig I tried and at a very cheap price point ($40) I didn't know what to expect. What I already didn't like was the lack of anything it included. First thing I noticed was that there was no real case. You buy the starter kit in a cardboard pack with a flip-top much resembling a real cigarette box. Cool concept, but have you ever reused a cigarette pack? Didn't think so. Quickly, the cardboard wears down and starts to fall apart. Inside the case was a foam insert that had slots for everything contained. Included was:
1 battery
4 cartridges (in the flavor you chose. Menthol and Tobacco only)
USB charger

And that's it. No wall charger, no case, only 4 cartridges, no car adapter...anything. I got what I paid for I guess.

Battery: Of all the e-cig batteries I've tried, this one had to be one of the heaviest. Functional, but limited battery life. And took too long to charge. Not much else to say here.

Vapor Production/Ease of Draw: The draw was pretty easy to my surprise. Didn't take much to get the battery working. Vapor, however consistent, was poor. It was bad the whole time, the same for all cartridges, even on a new atomizer.

Flavors: Some companies have a wide selection of flavors, others stick to the main. The main being tobacco and menthol.
Tobacco: Trash. Tasted like dirt, no real full taste and left my mouth feeling dry and tacky.
Menthol: Had more of a menthol hit than Blu, but the lack of vapor killed it.

Value and Options: There are 2 kits that I saw offered. One had menthol cartrdges, other tobacco.
The fact there's no option to buy 2 battery kits (or at least, was no option. Haven't checked up) is disappointing. PureSmoke did 2 things right in their products.
#1. Offered 2 different strengths in each starter kit, to see how each one hits. This is great because even long time smokers easily underestimate the strength of a full nicotine cartridge.
#2. With all replacement cartridge packs (packs of 10) they included a replacement atomizer. I still have not seen many 3 piece designs do this, forcing you to buy your atomizers online for an additional cost.
But the fact that these are in such cheap boxes, only offer 2 kits, 2 flavors, no car adapter, no wall charger...all disappointing.

OVERALL: 2.5/7

One of the few times I'd actually recommend a Blu over another product. PureSmoke = PureJunk. Keep looking.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blu Electronic Cigarette Review

And continuing with the trend of e-cig posts today, earlier I mentioned I'd be doing some reviews. I'll make a post for each brand here. Let's begin!

First off we have Blu electronic cigarettes. These have quickly become a well known brand thanks in part to their smart marketing and mass online advertising. But does it work?

...sort of.

The compact design of Blu will really be hit or miss. Some like it, others don't. To me, battery life > length and weight, and because this is such a compact piece, it sacrifices much in the battery life department.
I'll go ahead and break all this down in my review format which looks a little something like this. Also all scores are */7, not 5 or 10. Strange I know :P

Battery: As mentioned above the battery life is lacking. You will only get so many puffs before having to have one right behind it ready to go. Plus side, they charge quick also. On the down side, many companies offer a manual and automatic battery, Blu comes only in automatic.
Overall, I've had worse, had better.

Vapor Production/Ease of Draw: The Blu offers a fairly easy draw when it feels like giving it to you. Most of the time it feels lacking. The vapor production is highly inconsistent through the life of the cartomizer. One second it's great, the next you get hardly anything. Stacked against the competition, this one is certainly behind.

Flavors: The flavors Blu had at the time of me trying this kit, were Menthol, Tobacco, Java and Cherry. They have recently added a Vanilla flavor as well. I'll go ahead and quickly write up each flavor.
Menthol- This should be the easiest flavor to nail. However, Blu has missed the mark here. It tastes like air. No substance, no hint or trace of mint flavor whatsoever.
Cherry- If they were trying for Robotussin, they succeeded. Chemical-like aftertaste, inhale is rough.
Tobacco- Nothing like tobacco one bit. Not sure what its even like, but tobacco isn't it. Also airy like the menthol.
Java- The best of the flavors that I tried. It did in fact taste like coffee to some extent. Wasn't bad, but it doesn't save the rest.

Value and Options: The kit includes, straight from Blu's site:

  • 1 pack to hold 5 cartridges and charges your batteries on the go
  • 2 electronic cigarette batteries
  • 1 wall charger and 1 USB charger
  • 5-pack of flavor cartridges in the flavor and strength of your choice
  • 30 day money-back guarantee and one year warranty
  • $69.95
  • Cartridges cost:
  • 1 Five Pack $12.00
    2 Five Packs $10.80 ea.
    4 Five Packs $ 9.60 ea.

The charging case is easily the biggest selling point of Blu, but with other companies quickly catching up, its not as big a deal as it used to be. 2 batteries is the standard for kits, but I'm disappointed that they don't offer manual and automatic batteries. Also no large selection of accessories.
For cartridges, like shown above, they try to get you to buy bulk. A single cartridge costs a bit over $2.00. Seems standard with everyone else, but high for what you get.
In summary here, options are lacking, and the value is about middle of the road.


It's average and that's all it is. Bad vapor, short battery life, no extra options, bad flavors. For the price, you'd expect a little higher in terms of quality. Honestly, I cannot recommend this e-cigarette.

If you're interested in buying them, don't forget to Google those coupon codes before check out!

Thanks for reading the first in a series of reviews from AllWired

Electronic Cigarette Information - reviews to follow!

So since this blog covers all types of technology and gadgets, I'll go ahead and start with something perhaps not everyone has heard of yet. It is called the "Electronic Cigarette" or "e-cig" for short. It has been on the market since about 2007 and is widely considered the safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes.
I myself have tried a few brands and know the product well so I'll do my best to explain and share my thoughts here.
The point of an electronic cigarette is to simulate cigarette smoking by providing oral fixation as well as releasing a vapor that is inhaled and exhaled much like smoke. This vapor contains 2 main ingredients, nicotine and flavoring with a base of Propylene Glycol or Vegetable Glycol.
The vapor is also odorless, allowing this device to be used even in places where smoking bans are placed.
Considering there is only nicotine in the vapor, so far it is safe to say it is better than traditional cigarettes by excluding the known carcinogens and toxins in cigarettes. (Although all facts about it being safer and carcinogen-free are not FDA approved as of yet)
Starter kits can run from as little at $40 to $200, with the general rule being 'you get what you pay for.'
A starter kit includes all the pieces needed to start enjoying an electronic cigarette. The general construction of an e-cig is always a 2-piece design or 3-piece design.
The industry standard is 2-piece for its many advantages over 3 piece.
In a 3 piece design, you have the electronic cigarette battery. This is resembling the actual cigarette part where tobacco would normally be wrapped in paper. At the end of the battery is an LED light that glows when activated. At the other end are threads, to which an "atomizer" is screwed on. The atomizer acts as the heating element between the nicotine and flavoring and the battery. On top of the atomizer you pop on a cartridge which contains a filament soaked in the liquid flavoring and nicotine solution. All of this comes together to form the e cig. Once you inhale on the cartridge end just like a real cigarette, a vapor fills your lungs and nicotine is then taken into the body. The LED light at the end will let you know it's working, in addition to also letting you know when its time to recharge the battery.
2 piece designs are preferred because each cartridge has a fresh atomizer in each one. Atomizers can become costly in a 3 piece design and are very tempermental, require frequent cleaning, and burn out after regular use.
It is also believed to be more sanitary.
I will be more than happy to answer any more questions about e-cigs, and in the following posts, I will review the brands that I have tried so you can make a decision for yourself!
Thanks for reading!


Hello to anyone viewing this, this is my first blog, "All Wired"!
This blog will consist of many topics ranging from gaming to music, cars and food or anything noteworthy of posting. 
I hope everyone has a good time reading this blog and Ill always be seeking feedback as this is my first ever blog. Thank you!