CMC 3: Snow

The theme for the next round of CMC: Conceptual Music Competition has been chosen and posted by last round’s winner, Abadoss. This round’s theme is “Snow” and here’s the description:

“Autumn has passed and winter descends upon the world. Snow has fallen upon the fields, transforming them into seas of white, and upon the trees, turning them to living clouds sitting low on the horizon.”

Entries are due on Saturday, December 23, 2006 at 11:59 PM (PST, GMT-8).

For more details, please visit the CMC thread in General Discussion on the OCR forums.

Based on the rules of the original TOMC, the CMC (Conceptual Music Competition) is designed so that each participant enters a piece of music based on a set theme. The participants take the theme and interpret it as they will to come up with something that fits. Any style can work, as long as it portrays a sense of what the theme is.

Official Rules!:

  1. Each piece must be originally composed for this competition. Arrangements and remixes will not be accepted. (Pieces composed by the participant prior to the competition will not be accepted.)
  2. Each piece must be 2:00 or longer and match the competition theme.
  3. Only one entry per person. Collaborations will be allowed, but each collaborator may not submit any other pieces. (This also means that a person cannot collaborate on two or more different pieces at the same time.)
  4. A link to the entry piece must be PMed to Abadoss prior to the deadline set for each competition. DO NOT POST THE LINK IN THE THREAD! However, feel free to post in the WIP:Other forum.
  5. Important: Each file must be labelled accordingly: Composer_Name_-_Composition_Title_CMC#.mp3
    (For example, if Magnus King submits a piece called “Heavy Laden with Ketchup” to CMC 10, then his filename would be: Magnus_King_-_Heavy_Laden_with_Ketchup_CMC10.mp3)
  6. MP3 file format is required. Know that even OGG will need to be converted into MP3. (If someone is unable to do so themselves, Abadoss would be willing and able to do it for them.)
  7. Entries should be accompanied by a description and/or story to help listeners understand what the piece is about. (Not required, though.)
  8. All entries must be submitted by Saturday, December 23, 2006 at 11:59 PM – PST, GMT-8.

M5 Add/Drop, just like in College ™

From the MAGFest Forums:

“Hello, fellow gamers. We have some bad news, some good news, and a special treat. Let’s not waste any time and get this over with.
The Bad:
The Minibosses have informed us that they’re taking a break from playing live shows for a little while. The downer is that MAGFest is right in the middle of their break and therefore they will not be playing. There’s still a possibility that you will see one or two of the guys at the festival (probably playing Kart DS). Additionally, we’ve removed Search Snake from the lineup, but we’re hoping they will return for a future MAGFest.

The Good:
We have two new bands taking their place! Please welcome Armcannon and Year 200X to the MAGFest concert lineup. They’re great guys, and we have proof they put on a rockin’ show. Check out the links, go to their website to see what kind of stuff they play, learn all their names (hmm, maybe I should do that too) and such!

So you know, we’ve just now made all these changes, and we don’t quite know who’s playing which nights yet because of it. We’ll try and get the final schedule posted this week for the entire festival so you can plan accordingly.

The Special:
Remember how we try to do something cool for MAGFest attendees every year? Well, this year the first chunk of paid preregistrations will receive a supercool, special, shiny, attention-getting dogtag in addition to a regular festival badge. It’s made of METAL. And so are the bands. I think our consoles and computers are too. So now, you too can be made of METAL. Prereg as soon as you can to ensure you get one, I think we’re looking at about a dozen or so preregs remaining that will receive dogtags!

Don’t forget! The hotel deadline is about a week away! Get your room if you haven’t! See “Information” on the left for the link [here], or call them up and tell them you’re coming for MAGFest.”

Hardware Review – Logitech RX300

I spent quite a while trying to come up with an idea for the first Hardware column. About a week ago my mouse pissed me off for the last time, and off to Newegg I went, ordering this $10.45 (before shipping) optical USB mouse. I have also ordered Personalized Mouse Pads to gain more interest. Expecting UPS to be slow as usual, I wasn’t planning on getting it until nearer the weekend, so a surprise came when the brown truck pulled up the street today. And there it was: A new mouse, and my hardware topic.
I didn’t really think too much about the features when I bought it; it was the cheapest USB optical mouse (at the time) that was of a brand I recognised, so into the cart it went.

The first thing I noticed when I pulled it out of the box was the excessive packaging. Newegg, in my experience, has always been stingy with padding the items they send, having received more than a few bumped and dented products from them (then again, this was my first time shipping UPS through Newegg, since apparently a while back they cancelled their deal with FedEx).

The box was large enough to ship a small mammal in, although I guess that’s what a mouse is. After getting it open (through that tape that scissors can’t cut but a well-placed pen can) I was showered in packing peanuts. Being near-winter in a temperate zone, I was already well-charged with static, so I’m still finding peanuts that stuck in untoward places, three hours later.

After digging through the peanuts, I pulled out a roll of bubble wrap. Somewhere in there was my mouse. Being OEM, it was just sitting in a bag inside the bubble wrap. Finally getting that open, I had my mouse out.

Logitech RX300 Optical Mouse 3D
Logitech RX300 Optical Mouse 3D

The first thing I noticed about the mouse was its weight. This thing is hefty. I didn’t pull out my postage scale and weigh it, mainly because I don’t have a postage scale anymore, but it’s definitely well-constructed. The shape takes a little getting used to, with the buttons wider than the bottom of the unit, but it works.

Fifteen minutes later, after giving it time to warm up to room temperature, I unplugged my cheapo no-name mouse bought from Newegg nearly two years ago, waited for Windows to recognise that a device was missing, and then plugged in my new pointing device. I had to go through two simple default driver installs (apparently Windows can tell the difference between different models of mice now) and finally got down to business.

The standard functions work like you’d expect them to. The left and right mouse buttons are large, and have just the right amount of resistance. My last few mice have either been too easy or too hard to click, resulting in extra or missed clicks at crucial moments. The wheel is a little loose, so you might end up scrolling a little farther than you’d want to in some cases.

The “tilting scroll wheel” is a nice feature. Rather than having the “traditional” back/forward buttons on the sides of the mouse, these are built into the wheel. Using these buttons requires the installation of Logitech’s 42 MB SetPoint software, which is a lot to download on a throttled connection (although I’m pretty sure the machines it came with had this preinstalled, and the boxed version probably came with a driver disc). Setting it up was easy; it asked for a reboot but it worked fine without one.

The software lets you assign different functions to each mouse button, and has a special “detect games” setting which lets you override assignments (or let the OS handle them) when you’re playing games. I haven’t tested this out yet, because I don’t have anything to test it with.

The buttons themselves do their function (I’ve assigned them to back/forward, which makes browsing much faster), but they’re once again too easy to click. The worst part of it is when attempting to middle-click or middle-drag (like when scrolling), because any slight tilt of the finger causes the browser to change pages.
Tracking-wise, it’s doing good, but once again I haven’t had a chance to test it out for games.

In conclusion, it’s a sturdy mouse with good features, but the tilt-wheel makes it too easy to accidentally do something you don’t want to. However, given the price, it’s a good general-purpose mouse. I give it a 4 out of 5. 4 out of 5

Game Releases – December 3-9, 2006

With Black Friday out of the way, game releases are a bit dry this week, but there’s still a few games that might catch someone’s eye.

Star Trek: Legacy

One game that caught my eye was Star Trek: Legacy. A PC ($39.99) and XBOX 360 ($59.99) release (which was originally due to come out November 7, and then November 21), finally hits shelves on Tuesday, the 5th. This strategy game by the makers of Oblivion features ships from all five live-action TV series, with a massive single-player campaign as well as several multiplayer modes.

Source: GameSpot

Star Wars: Lethal Alliance

There’s some “Star” action for portables this week as well. An action-packed game taking place between the two trilogies, you take on the role of a blaster-wielding mercenary who “acts more like Han Solo than Luke Skywalker”. It comes out this Tuesday for the PSP and next Tuesday (December 12th) for the DS.

Source: GameSpot

Also check out this complete list (once again from GameSpot).

That’s all for this week, but stay tuned because next week is packed with big releases.

New daily columns

As you might have noticed, it’s been a little stale around here lately. Luckily, we’ve been working hard to get things rolling again, and you’re about to see the results of those efforts.

We’re setting up a schedule of daily columns to provide more current and useful content to you. Starting this week, we’ll have some of these columns filled, and hopefully have permanent status on them by next week. If you have any news that would fit into any of these categories, or into any of our categories, let us know.

  • Monday: New Games! Most new games usually come out on Tuesdays, so we’ll give you the scoop on this week’s releases a day early.
  • Tuesday: The Tech Report – Each week, we’ll cover one topic in depth. It could be a console, or a specific piece of PC hardware, or just something cool we found.
  • Wednesday: Sales & Releases: A listing of the best hardware and software
    deals found over the last week, and reports and updates on commercial
    projects within the community, because musicians need to eat too!
  • Thursday: WIPs Galore! We’ll go through and give some deserving WIPs some attention.
  • Friday: The Competition Report. Keep up-to-date on all the
    friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) competitive action on OCReMix and other places around the community.

Weekends will have some additional content. Not exactly news, but just something to keep you occupied:

  • Saturday: Featured Songs. Each week we’ll feature a remix or
    original that we feel merits featured status. We also accept
    submissions for Featured Song material; just remember we’re trying to spotlight some of the lesser-known material that deserves to be seen.
  • Sunday: Guest column day. An editorial by a guest on something
    not entirely community-related, but that still ties-in in some way.

These columns aren’t exclusive to one writer, and depend mostly on the legwork of our staff and guest staff, so if you’ve got any news relating to them, let us know and we’ll work it into the reports (and give credit where it’s due, of course).