Before I launch into today's festive, fun-filled update describing how RealPlayer and RealOne and every other RealShitty product from RealNetworks has left me with an unquenchable bloodlust that can only result in the slaughtering of millions, I would like to thank Zack "Ghost Exchanger" Parsons for letting the dream of the upcoming "Big Prize Week" come true. I can't praise him enough for all the hard work and effort he put into organizing "Big Prize Week," and once next Sunday rolls around I know you won't be able to either. This is definitely one of the biggest and most exciting things we here at Something Awful have ever done in our entire existence on the Internet, and I don't think I'd be going out on a limb if I claimed it was simply the biggest thing ANY website has ever done on the Internet. Zack spent months upon months getting brainstorming "Big Prize Week" and putting together all the pieces so it would be the incredible success that it's bound to be. If it sounds like I'm gushing too much praise for the man, let me just say that once "Big Prize Week" begins, you'll undoubtedly understand why I'm so excited about even the mere concept itself. Let me also take this last sentence to extend my personal gratitude to some other people who helped make "Big Prize Week" possible: a special thanks goes out to Jeff Bezos, Steve Case, and Steve Jobs, all of which were critical in amassing the tools needed to make "Big Prize Week" the astonishing success it will be. Thank you very much, and I sincerely hope you readers out there are as pumped up about "Big Prize Week" as I am!
With that out of the way, I would like to begin today's update by offering a brief and simple synopsis fueling the backbone of the text you're about to read:
Fuck you, RealNetworks.
See? Now when I want a program to simply play a video, I really love it when all this other crap appears! This is my dream come true!
When Rob Glaser, President of Progressive Networks, announced the launch of RealAudio back in April of 1995, most people hailed it as a technological breakthrough which would completely change the world of streaming Internet audio. This was mainly because there previously was no world of streaming Internet audio, therefore making it highly easy to change. You see, back in 1995, Internet users had two different options when it came to listening to online audio: they could either download wav files of live sports broadcasts from 1978 at 3 kbps, or simply program their computers so it emitted screeching triangle wave sounds periodically while they pretended it was a highly advanced super-robot from the future like that piece of shit bronze midget from "Buck Rogers" or possibly "Battlestar Galactica," depending on which show it was on. The Internet was relatively in its infancy back then, lacking the strong technological backbone and bandwidth it has these days, so a low bitrate streaming audio broadcast was hailed by many as the wave of the future. Big name companies such as Microsoft (which now produces 100% of everything in the world) and Netscape (I don't recall exactly what they used to produce, but this 89-year old man down the street who spends his free time whittling wooden figurines of black children eating watermelons claims that Netscape once produced Internet browsers) immediately adopted this technology and signed many exciting new contracts with Progressive Networks. Once the mass media companies saw the backing by these two online powerhouses, they began to sign up as well, offering live ABC Radio news, Major League Baseball broadcasts, and results from the tremendously historic Hong Kong elections. I don't remember who won the aforementioned horribly historic Hong Kong elections, but they must not have done a very good job in their presidency, as every time I watch an anime movie their entire country gets vaporized by nuclear missiles, comets, giant robots, and millions of tentacle penises, most of which lack the right to vote.
Now I'm not going to make any outlandish claims, like "RealAudio always sucked" or "women find me irresistible." I have to admit that early versions of RealAudio, and to a lesser extent RealPlayer, were good products. RealAudio did a somewhat decent job of pumping out streaming audio over crappy modem connections, at least compared to the alternative of buying a plane ticket and traveling to wherever the broadcast was taking place. The futuristic technology of RealAudio came from its ability to "buffer" media and stream it out at an even, consistent rate. Of course this never really happened correctly, but it was the thought that counted. If I were to walk up to you in 1995 and say, "you know, one day shares of Linux stock will debut at $100 million billion dollars per share," you would hear that exactly how I said it. However, the buffering technology behind RealAudio would allow me to say this same thing to you in realtime, only I could be 2,000 miles away and Dungeon Mastering in my mom's basement while doing so. Unfortunately, RealAudio would transform the sentence of "you know, one day shares of Linux stock will debut at $100 million billion dollars per share" into something more bandwidth / Internet friendly, which resembled something like this:
(BUFFERING... 100% DONE) "You kn-" (BUFFERING, 47% DONE) "-ow, one d-" (BUFFERING, 9% DONE) "-ay shares of Linux" (BUFFERING, BUFFERING% DONE) "will debut at $10-" (BUFFERING, KITCHEN FLOORS ARE NOW BRIGHT AND SHINY) "0 million billion doll-" (BUFFERING, WHY NOT DOWNLOAD A PRIMITIVE VERSION OF BONZI BUDDY TO SPEED UP THIS DOWNLOAD WHILE YOU'RE WAITING HERE?) "-ars per share."
RealNetworks makes black people think about something!
Then there would be some horrible white noise and an advertisement for the newest version of the Spry Mosaic web browser, which included support to render the letter "q" properly on most platforms. Those were indeed the good ol' days, when the Internet was an electronic version of the Wild Wild West, only instead of cowboys there were people talking about the latest patch for Doom. And instead of tumbleweed, there were ads for the hottest FTP freeware sites on the Internet. And instead of horse toughs, there were - ah, forget it, the Internet was never like the Wild Wild West, and if you think it was, then you're probably one of those retarded folks who seriously use the term "surfing the Information Highway" without laughing hysterically.
Everything was relatively fine for the next couple years; Progressive Networks continued to ramp up support for RealAudio and created such monster smash hit products as "Timecast," a piece of non-functioning software which delivered a bunch of information to people who didn't bother to read it, and "RealPublisher," which nobody has ever used to this very day (including the programmers). However, a disturbing trend was beginning to take place with every release of RealAudio. Each version, while moderately improving the potential sound quality and reliability, was growing increasingly bloated like a tick hanging off Louie Anderson's armpit. The original version of RealAudio was simple to use and easy as hell to install. All you had to do was go to "JC3621's Ko0l wEb PiCkS oF Da DaY" and click on the download link. Once your computer finished grabbing the file six days later, you clicked the program, installed it, and you were ready to go listen to things erotically buffer themselves. However, as the release number increased, additional "features" were added to the software, despite the fact that nobody asked for these features and nobody sure as hell wanted them. In addition to playing streaming media, RealAudio could now take over every audio file on your computer unless you filled out an eight-page contract instructing asking it politely to refrain from turning your computer into RealAudio HeadQuarters! And hey, Progressive Networks knows how much you kids love pictures of 20-year old women listening to their computer speakers inside a white room, so RealAudio can easily change your homepage and browser links to all point to their homepage where you can be informed of exciting deals and offers available only through RealAudio! And if you decide to ever shoot yourself in the head out of raw frustration, be sure to use RealStreamingSuicideAudio to transmit the sound of the gunshot to thousands of online Internet users in realtime! It will only be buffered 573 times per second!
RealOne OpenPass forces ugly, pasty white girls to put brown mops on their heads and listen to signals from NASA probes!
Soon Progressive Networks took the step which sealed their fate: they changed their name to RealNetworks, and the 500 mile-an-hour downhill slide began. RealAudio was quickly declared "obsolete" by the people in RealNetworks' Department of Raging Assholes, and RealPlayer 4.0 was spewed out with every copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0. I guess the positive side of the coin was that nobody in their right mind used IE back then, as Microsoft spent less time developing IE than it did with Notepad, except possibly to ensure IE crashed at every possible opportunity and didn't support anything anywhere no matter how much you cried about it. In addition to streaming audio, RealPlayer 4.0 included streaming video which came in two different formats: big blocky chunks of blurry pixels, and even bigger blocky chunks of blurry pixels. They used a special proprietary compression algorithm created by the people in the RealNetworks Department of Incompetent Jerks Who Hate All Human Beings, and this codec allowed audio to sound as if it was recorded inside a bathroom water pipe with a Fischer-Price microphone manufactured during the Kennedy administration.
Once RealNetworks figured out that they had a stranglehold on the streaming audio and video market, they became crazed with power and turned into psychotic zombies bent on the mental downfall of all mankind. RealPlayer downloads increased in file size from 500k to roughly 298.3 megs, although you can get a really speedy download if you agree to subscribe to the Real1Total1RealPackageRealSavings service which only costs $19.95 a month and allows you to get streaming video feeds of behind the scenes footage from never released "Designing Women" episodes in Spanish. Instead of the simple, effective, easy-to-use software that defined RealAudio, RealNetworks is currently pushing their most worthless, bloated, piece of shit file to ever hit the Internet, RealOne. In case you're wondering what the "One" stands for, it is an acronym for "Obnoxious New Executable," which succinctly sums up everything about RealNetworks' current marketing release strategy. By default, RealNetworks will try to trick you into downloading their Premium Gold Platinum Ultra-Super-MegaPass Limited Edition Ken Griffy Jr. version of RealOne, which has a free 14-day trial that immediate changes into a not-so-free lifetime subscription service which usually begins a few weeks before your 14 day trial expires. You know... for your convenience. In addition to playing the obsolete RealMedia formats, the software now comes with the following super mega fun bonus features:
More bloated crap that nobody will use! Look for it to change names and double in file size in a year!
PLAYS ALL MEDIA FORMATS, EVEN IF YOU DON'T WANT IT TO. Once installed, RealOne will begin a series of hostile takeovers where it corrupts and hijacks every possible file extension association, usually by holding key people hostage. Hey, did you like listening to mp3s on WinAmp? Well RealNetworks knows you secretly hate the efficiency and ease-of-use that the last decent release of WinAmp (2.73) had to offer, so please welcome your new mp3 player, a gigantic hunk of blue and white pig vomit that makes up for its lack of useful features by adding in the luxury of needless software bloat! RealOne is programmed to associate itself with all files limited to the .* extension in order to ensure that it will be able to play file types that don't even exist yet! It's that futuristic! And if you ever make the forbidden mistake of removing its file associations, RealOne will be more than happy to let you know that you royally fucked up and it will take the liberty of changing them back again! You can't get this kind of stellar customer service these days!
EASY ACCESS TO ONLINE RADIO WHICH YOU WILL NEVER USE. The only thing worse than regular radio is Internet radio, especially now that the RIAA is making online stations pay them $40 billion in taxes every time they play the new Metallica track, which includes samples from hit Eminem songs and was recorded by a group of budding 18-year old sound engineers inside an Alabama toolshed. I don't know anybody who listens to any Internet radio except NPR, and let me tell you, the people who religiously tune in to NPR spend all their money on car bumper stickers which read "My Other Car is a Broomstick - Support Your Local Wiccan" and "George W. Bush Jr. Murders Babies."Just give us your goddamn credit card and don't ask what we're giving you in exchange!
ADVANCED CD BURNING WHICH YOU WILL ALSO NEVER USE. Hey RealNetworks, there are a shitload of great CD burning programs, and RealOne is not one of them! Anybody who is serious about making their own CDs uses dedicated programs such as Ahead Nero, which offer a ton of great features for a low price. The biggest feature of RealOne's CD-burning capabilities is that it can make the sound of a clown masturbating when you're done producing a corrupted disc of your favorite Christina Aguilera mixes.
EXPANDED EQ CONTROLS WHICH TRANSFORM YOUR SHITTY STREAMING AUDIO INTO EVEN SHITTIER STREAMING AUDIO. If RealOne's EQ controls included a toggle which could switch between "sound like crap" and "don't sound like crap," then they might have a useful feature on their hands. As is, the EQ is about the most worthless piece of junk ever, easily taking a back seat to "adjusting the treble knob on your PC speakers with your fat nerd fingers." Sure, the lure of being able to increase the bass of the guy's voice advertising environmentally-safe bleach is simply intoxicating, but it's yet another worthless feature that RealNetworks has piled on in a futile attempt to make people think that more features = more better.Don't even get me started on this one.
NEW TOOLBAR MODE ENSURES YOU'LL CONSTANTLY BE REMINDED OF HOW MUCH YOU LOATHE REALONE AT ALL TIMES. Upon installing RealOne, it will place a shortcut on your desktop, a shortcut on your startup menu, a shortcut in your program links, a shortcut on your toolbar, a shortcut in your system tray, a shortcut in your Internet browser, a shortcut branded across the foreheads of the ones you love, a shortcut inside the shortcut inside the shortcut on the next computer you purchase, and a shortcut that leads to a page which takes over all your previous shortcuts with RealNetwork shortcuts which allow you to purchase RealOne visor caps and monthly passports to view that QVC baseball card show where the two rednecks shout a lot and throw things.
BUILT-IN MEDIA BROWSER HELPS YOU HATE THE INTERNET IN GENERAL. Once again, RealNetworks is convinced that you and I are all tired of using fully functional products, and would instead prefer a series of half-assed pieces of junk that are built into one gigantic ad serving lump of software. The RealOne Media Browser will allow you to browse "The Internet Lite," which is kind of like the Internet if you were to take out all the free content and instead replace it with ads and pictures of people enjoying various RealNetworks products. That's right, if you purchase the Premium Gold Platinum Ultra-Super-MegaPass Limited Edition Ken Griffy Jr. version of RealOne, you'll finally be able to see a nonstop parade of ads telling you what songs and videos you like and how to best purchase them so RealNetworks successfully makes the most money! It's like being on a RealNetworks' controlled version of the Internet, which is a paradise for mentally handicapped people with large credit card limits.
I suppose I may sound a tad bitter when it comes to talking about RealNetworks, but I can honestly say that I have never hated a piece of software as much as I despise RealOne and all its previous and future incantations. This may be because I hate the unnecessary features, code bloat, corporate whoring, or the fact that whenever RealOne attempts to run on my computer, it completely locks up Windows XP Pro, causing me to do a cold reboot. Yes, this wonderful piece of software can't even be shitty on my computer, as it causes my entire system to freeze and never recover unless I pull the plug and power it back on. Thank you very much for your incredible progress, RealNetworks, and I look forward to the day when I can buy a complete RealComputer, which is simply a stone box covered entirely with ads that refuses to do anything but sit there and waste my time while a magic voice inside the box continually barks at me to upgrade to RealComputerUltraPlus, which is simply a heavier stone plastered with more ads. Ah, the sweet price of success!
Double the X-Change
Zack "Rape Crisis Center" Parsons here with a smoldering meteor of Hentai Review to reveal to you. It's the sequel to one of the first games I reviewed here, a little sex-change masterpiece entitled "X-Change 2".
In X-Change 2 you are Takuya, your average wimpy and effeminate Hentai Game protagonist who is attending Miyanomori Private School for mega eyed freaks. Despite the fact that a year or two ago he got turned into a girl and rutted with anything that had genitals or a mouth his girlfriend is still Asuka from the first game. In the intervening time since X-Change she has been taking "annoying bitch" pills and she waffles back and forth between over-the-top aggression including physical abuse and being mysteriously brooding. In the opening conversation with Takuya she hits him no less than five times, a good sign of a dumb bitch I would throw down a flight of stairs the first chance I could find. Since the game features no stairs and only minimal use of the "throw" option I just did my best throughout the course of the game to spend as little time with her as possible.
Run, don't walk, to read this all new Hentai Game Review! Because I'm watching you missy, and I will take you off Santa's list in a heartbeat if you fuck with the wrong motherfucker.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.