Separation of fantasy from reality

So, I’ve been watching videos from this guy who’s calling himself The Amazing Atheist. He has a very, how shall I say it, sharp way of responding to things, but he actually makes tons of sense pretty much all the time. And I’ve just caught this video response. Since I’m unable to find the original one to which he is responding, I’ll just use his video as a medium for the original.

Is rape bad and should be criticized by all means? Absolutely. No one should ever undergo such physical and psychological torture. However, the argument in question is: “Is rape role playing bad?” And my answer would be, no. It’s not a bad thing. It’s well known and well documented thing. It’s even on Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_fantasy . It’s well known for people to have rape fantasies and as shocking as it might be to some, women actually fantasize about it more often than men do. A shocker right, considering women are usually the victims of rapes.

But rape fantasies include two persons in a sexual relationship who agree to the act of simulated rape (or fantasy rape if you want it). Being a consensual act, it’s not a rape anymore by any definition and it basically falls in the fetish zone. There are many different fetishes, from mild forms where one gets sexually aroused by certain body parts, like feet or woman having very short hair, really tiny breasts, really full lips or to more extreme versions considered by many to be rather disturbing, like eating feces, being tied hard with a rope and then be spanked or being dressed as an infant and sucking a milk from womans breasts (yeah, I’ve done reasearch and such things actually exist). But hey, if two find it sexually fulfilling, why not? I wouldn’t do it, but if someone wants to do it, then why not.

I’m pretty confident everyone have a mild form of fetish one way or another. It’s a basic sexual preference, the same way as some like blondes more than other hair color, pretty much anything can be in this category. As well as everyone had some sort of fantasy at one point in their life. Be it sexual or some other. Like wanting to punch someone in the face because he was a total douchebag or wanted to shoot someone or wanted to be a super villain or a famous singer. Or maybe fantasize to be a dog. Who hasn’t played a s a child and act like you were a dog or some other animal? The list could go on and on till infinity and beyond. But we call it “fantasy” for a reason. Either because it is being manifested in a consensual way or because it is just that, a fantasy, entirely happening in one’s mind and not harming anyone.

Violence or more specifically violence in games is what has been brought up so many times in arguments that violence in games creates violent people. It just doesn’t, like fantasy about being raped or committing a rape doesn’t necessarily makes you a rapist, that should be locked up in advance and treated in a psychiatric institution. I can fantasize about it all I want, but until I actually do it for real, I haven’t done anything wrong. And because my mind is not all messed up, I will fantasize about it, but would NEVER actually do it to anyone in reality. It’s the separation of fantasy from reality. Some think that fantasizing about such things makes you weird and a ticking bomb by default is a statement that couldn’t be more wrong than it already is. There has been no relation between fantasies and actually manifesting them in reality. So many people do it every day that if such statement was true, our society would self terminate itself millenia ago.

Hell, the last game I’ve played, Alien:Isolation, I’ve immersed myself so deeply into the game to feel like I’m the actual survivor on a space station being hunted by a superior predator alien. And years ago I’ve done the same with Half-Life game when I was walking through the Black Mesa complex. Or being on a Von Braun space ship in System Shock 2. It brings out that extra immersion factor which brings much stronger emotions to the surface than it would if you take it just as some game that you play to simply kill time. I also loved playing Soldier of Fortune and watch how shotgun makes guts fly out and how ones head goes into tiny pieces. Things that I know I’m not suppose to do in real life because they would harm someone. There is no quick save and quick load in reality. If you shoot someone in the head, you terminate one forever. And that’s why I like doing it in games, because they are virtual and they fulfill my fantasies without actually harming anyone. When I turn off the game, I switch off my fantasies and I “return” into reality. And real reality is that very large majority of people have no problem of such separation of fiction from reality. It’s something natural you do as far as my fantasies and imagination goes, regardless of how twisted or perverted it might be in someone elses eyes.

And that’s where I’ve come up with a conclusion that you shouldn’t really be afraid of people who fantasize about things, you should be afraid of people who judge this kind of people (while recording an AK-47 rifle on their table?). The person who wants to perform a rape fantasy is clearly able to separate fantasy from reality, because otherwise he/she wouldn’t be able to do it because of the nature of the act itself. Why would one be aroused by something that is torture for someone else? Or a person who fantasize to be a bad ass gangster in Grand Theft Auto, murdering hundreds of people in a game world. It’s natural to fantasize about things regardless of what they are and how they are treated or accepted in reality. Because for as long as they are not harming anyone (directly or indirectly), they are perfectly acceptable on any level. That’s why it’s called FANTASY.

Fantasy and imagination are what drives us. All the poetry, stories, books, music and movies or games, all the really weird brutal jokes, bizarre porn videos etc, it’s all fueled by our fantasies and imagination. Without it, we would be just an empty dull shell. But we also have intelligence that gives us ability to separate one from another. One who is unable to separate it is clearly mentally challenged or lacks the intelligence and morals. But should we judge entire population based on those few exceptions? Of course not. Should we judge people just because they think about such things? Of course not.

Sexist comet landing

If you haven’t been following the recent major events in the science field, here is a brief intro. ESA, the European Space Agency made a first ever mission to land a spacecraft on a comet (67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko) and gather gravitational, structural, chemical and other properties of the comet itself. The mission was done by Rosetta and Philae robotic spacecrafts and is considered as one of the major space exploration milestones ever attempted that might reveal ground breaking information regarding space and its many secrets on how it was formed and how life might have formed on planets since comets carry many organic compounds and also two which are among the most important to form life as we know it. Water and oxygen. It is very possible that comets are responsible for seeding life on planets. Even our own planet Earth. And Rosetta mission will potentially bring us tiny bit closer to the origin of life info if you want it to be scaled on how important it is.

However, the mission has been a bit overshadowed recently in the media because of Dr. Matt Taylor, a brilliant scientist from UK, who was the leading scientist on the Rosetta project. And the only reason for all the outrage was this:

Image courtesy of www.independent.co.uk
Image courtesy of http://www.independent.co.uk

Still don’t have a clue why certain people were outraged over him? Let me tell you. The whole rage going on about it was because of his shirt which was labeled as “sexist” because of few drawn female characters in tight dresses with slightly larger cleavages and breasts.

At first I couldn’t believe what I was reading. We’ve made one of the most important space explorations in human history that in my opinion falls in a second place right after the moon landing as far as the importance goes and there are people out there that are so fucking short-sighted that they are more concerned over a fucking shirt he was wearing on conference, basically disregarding the importance of the contribution to the human race he and his team at ESA made with Rosetta mission. These feminist imbeciles even went so far with bullying, that lead to this guy apologizing in tears. Are you fucking kidding me? He shouldn’t be apologizing for anything. Ever. And not because his mission success has a higher importance than woman rights, but because he did NOTHING wrong. First of all, the originally offending shirt that is depicting sexy blondes dressed in tight dresses with slightly larger breasts is not offending at all (see the image above and wonder what the fuck is wrong with it…) and secondly, it was a gift given to Matt Taylor by his wifes’ friend Elly Prizeman. Wait for it… Elly is a WOMAN! Matt Taylor was wearing her shirt (that she actually designed and tailored as a gift for him) to honor her by simply wearing it. You know, as a gesture of showing her that he appreciates the gift. Something any normal human being does to show that gift was important to him/her. He just happened to wear it on a public conference for Philae landing (which meant a lot to Elly, because the event was so big and important), not knowing he’ll be hit with a shitstorm of complaints from feminist retards. Elly even had to go so far and defend her friend Matt with her public response which you can read here.

And here I am wondering where our civilization has gone for people to complain and worry about something so fucking unimportant as the wrong choice of style for a public conference. What, should he come there in a sterile white dress in a hope he wouldn’t offend anyone that way? I bet there would be some fucks who would start bitching about discrimination of black people and start connecting him with KKK or some other shit. I mean what the fuck. He and his team which also consists of WOMEN just made a historical space exploration mission and these feminists are bitching over a shirt he was wearing? If the shirt he was wearing was full of bulky muscle dudes, no one would really give a shit. But since it had sexy women depicted on it (just sexy, not even naked!), whole hell broke loose. There is just no facepalm currently known to mankind that would properly display my outrage towards these idiots. The closest one I can think of is the one where palm of the hand actually punctures through the skull and comes out on the other end. But I still feel it’s not quite the right one…

I perfectly understand it when people are fighting for woman rights, because lets face it, women are still greatly oppressed in many parts of the world, but these feminist morons are crossing the line here. They are not fighting for anyone’s rights here, they are just bitching over something completely irrelevant in a western world where despite them constantly bitching how women are poorly treated and all, they have nothing to bitch about. And that’s my opinion from my own experience and if it’s this way in our country, many far better developed European countries fare even better. I work in one of the largest companies in our country and many leading positions in the company are covered by female workers. We are talking CEO, COO and so forth positions as well as various other head of department roles among centers throughout our country. My boss is female and I had many others before her and we got along great with all the respect and everything. I have 2 female co-workers and one other male co-worker and we are treated exactly the same in all aspects I can think of in the department where we work.

I also have a further explanation why things tend to look so bad in statistics that they usually show all over the place. Those kind of statistics that would show how ESA Rosetta team had 90% of team consisting of men and 10% of women. I made these numbers up, but I know that women did work on Rosetta project and they also work in other ESA projects and are in a minority. The reason is not in horrifying oppression of women, but the fact that women in general aren’t all that interested in such fields. There are work places that are dominated by man, because they are simply generally more interested in them. Like electrical and mechanical engineering, chemistry and physics fields, car industry, military etc that is generally dominated by men and fields like fashion, beauty and styling, social fields and communications, schools and kindergartens etc that are in general dominated by women. It’s just the way how human nature kinda directs our lives on a subconsciousness level. But that doesn’t mean women or men don’t decide for a work that is not dominated by their gender. There are women working in science and engineering fields as well as men working in fashion, styling or social fields. It can easily work both ways. In fact, I can easily say that men who display interest in feminine fields are getting bullied more than women do, if they decide for more “feminine” work. Imagine being at school when you decide your profession specialization and a guy says he’ll go into fashion designing. He’d most likely be labeled as gay very quickly. You know, the “Are you gay or something?” nonsense? But if a women says, I’m going to the engineering school because I’m interested in I don’t know, computers, people would look kinda confused for a second or two and the day would continue like nothing happened. I’ve seen and heard about such cases so many times. Anyway, just to point out the obvious thing that feminists tend to just kinda push somewhere in the background…

Even the name “feminist”, which is the bunch of people who were bitching about it in the first place describes absolute interest in women rights only. If you want to do something good for this world like these men and women at ESA did, stop bitching over unimportant stuff like the above shirt and actually fight for equal rights, because believe it or not, there are also men who are in a worse position than women. Sure they are in minority, but no one can outright say it as a fact that it’s not happening. Who is fighting for their rights? No fucking one. Because even if they’d complain, no one would believe them. That’s what such one-sided extremist movements are doing to the western world. They are shifting from one extreme to another instead of making them equal. I support getting things on an equal level by all means, because everyone should have exactly the same rights if you have a penis between your legs or a vagina. It shouldn’t matter. At all.

This was just a general rant over certain group of people who label themselves as feminists (or shall I say extremist feminists, because, to be politically correct, we shouldn’t generalize things). The above block of text is one of the reasons I’ve even opened up a new category “Political Correctness”. I had no intention to bring politics and other life “nonsense” to a techy blog, but since the blog is kinda oriented around my life, I’ll expand the stuff I cover as I go. And since I’ve been studying human rights, religions and other social stuff lately on my own, I’m going to cover that as well from now on.

And following that, I also have a more detailed article planned regarding the topic of above shirt and how certain parts of our society is turning into a turd. It also happens to involve games that I love, so I feel I have to cover that as well. The above “shirt” story is kinda a prologue into this field that I wanted to write about long ago, but have so far only covered violence in games and not depiction of women in them.

And to end this story on a more positive note, even though I haven’t been following the Rosetta mission up closely, I’ve been reading about it and I’m very proud to our race (as humans) for making achievements like this. Because they show how men and women from different countries of different skin colors and religions can step together for a greater good for all mankind. Some may say it’s a waste of money to spend millions and billions on sending spacecrafts on some icy space rock, but these fragments of information are telling us who we are, where we came from, how life may originated. The really important scientific stuff. So, congratulations to Matt Taylor and his team at ESA and don’t let these extremist bullies make your life miserable ever again over things that are below the level of importance of a decaying dog turd in my backyard lawn.

Story of a dead E4200…

Had my trusty Linksys E4200 router for quite some time, flashed with DD-WRT few times and been using TomatoRAF on it for ages. Superb router. But the combination of full moon, many planets aligned together and mysterious ways of DD-WRT, the E4200 is now dead. Flashed it with experimental DD-WRT firmware (like so many times before), all went well until router rebooted after flashing. LED starts blinking like on every usual boot and the connection icon with yellow exclamation triangle started bothering me. Time has passed for a boot, but there was no wired or wireless signal. Rebooted it few times using various techniques, tried pinging it and doing a TFTP flash, nothing. Oh well. The Linksys E4200 is dead.

Since I have so many wireless devices depending on a single router I had to buy a new one next day. Luckily, a computer store nearby just had a brand new batch of ASUS RT-AC87U monsters arriving in stock. The exact router I was looking after. And yeah, it’s already processing packets in my home. Very expensive, but in my opinion well worth it. I guess some force knew I kinda wanted to replace the E4200 with something more powerful. And so it happened lol. Expect a ASUS RT-AC87U review soon…

NS2:Combat

While most of people are wanking on yet another release of Call of Duty that just got released, I prefer a bit more eccentric games with different game style we’ve seen so far. Like NS2:Combat. A more, like the name suggests, combat focused version of Natural Selection 2, made by the same team which delivered the NS2 “Combat mod”. While many complain it wasn’t nice to turn free mod into a paid game, I disagree. Original NS2 came to life the same way and no one shared the same opinion. And especially not for the price. It costs only $15 and will get a lot of new content in the coming weeks and months. This is a full stand alone game.

The game is now nearly without the strategy part of the original NS2 and is now more focused on individuals, but you still have to work as a team in order to win. NS2:Combat is a fast paced multiplayer FPS game with heavy FRP elements, particularly upgrades you can purchase by gaining XP points and levels. New weapons and abilities that can completely change the way you play and destroy enemies. And while it requires quite some learning, once you get the hang of it, it’s very rewarding and when you tear through crowds of enemies, the feel is so darn satisfying I can’t stop playing it. Can’t wait to see what new they’ll bring into the game with new maps and other extras. And the “old” Spark Engine still holds incredibly well as visuals still look freaking amazing and even feels a bit faster than in NS2.

And for the first week of the release, they give 10% discount, so check out the trailer above, check out few other videos on Youtube and maybe decide to buy it. I think it’s really awesome for the price and I can’t wait to play with more people.

NS2:Combat on Steam
NS2:Combat on Youtube (Faultline Games)Faultline Games (Official webpage)

Alien: Isolation Review

Welcome to Sevastopol. A Seegson space station orbiting gas giant KG348… I’m a survivor of this horrifying accident. 32 hours of hell in space…

This was the first game for which I haven’t really watched any trailers or gameplay previews prior to release. The main reason for this was not to ruin my experience. And I was right. I did know that I’ll meet one of the most terrifying organisms in the movie industry, the Alien. And I was aware that it’s heavily stealth based game. But other than that, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. Trailers and teasers just show too much these days and you already get the feel for the game even before you try it. Which is not cool, trust me. Try one game this way and you’ll see that experience is indeed a lot better.

Basically I had a very very really long review in the pipeline, but decided to sack it and make a lot shorter version which still ended up being quite long. Anyone who wanted to read a review about it already did so, no point in doing it twice. I’ll just make few highlights and my opinion on the critics others have made. Be aware that there will be spoilers ahead!

The story is pretty good, it has few twists, but isn’t anything on a level of System Shock 2 or the original Deus Ex. but still reasonably good for an Alien game, considering we basically know everything about them and anyone who has watches all the movies and played all AvP games knows how things go. Since I haven’t watched any trailers I didn’t really know how I’ll meet the alien, so I was very cautious through the entire “introduction” section, because I thought it will jump on me any second. The tension escalated quite well till around the middle of the game. Which I thought was actually the end, so the game sort of caught me by surprise, especially at the 3/4 of the game where I found out that things went to shits down below the reactor core of Sevastopol. Ending is a tiny bit disappointing and I wish the whole game would escalate in a more tense way, because the first half was really intense and after a middle of the game, tension sort of just drops to zero when you’re dealing with those malfunctioning working Joe’s. They are a challenge, especially the maintenance ones, but they just aren’t as terrifying as the alien and that really killed the atmosphere for me until you deal with some more aliens. The game sort of escalates in tension twice and not in one big linear escalating chunk. The ending is not definitive and clearly calls for a sequel. Do it Creative Assembly! Do it!

Graphics and audio are a fantastic aspect of this game and I wish more of developers would follow Creative Assembly. The graphics are amazing. Sharp textures, amazing shading, shadows that actually have soft edges and not serrated, like we see them in so many games. Environmental lighting is just out of this world with all the sparks making tiny fragments of light in the corridors, light penetrating smoke and fog, the volumetric fog itself is really on a movie level that really makes a damn good atmosphere. Or the heat haze all over the place when you’re down at the reactor engineering. Really subtle touch that gives a great feeling to the levels. Oh and light corona and lens flares are the most spectacular thing I’ve seen in any game so far. When you get that rare occasion to stare out the window of Sevastopol station and observe the orange glowing star in the distance, just breathtaking. And best of all, I was able to experience this brand new game maxed out with silky smooth framerate on a 3 generations old graphic card at 1080p. I have an overclocked Radeon HD7950 which is quite old by all means and definitions and it ran this game as smoothly as butter. That’s amazing and it shows that the game is superbly optimized. There are few tiny glitches like small gaps between certain world elements and alien tail doesn’t get shadow and SSAO treatment when it’s being dragged on the ground, but these are really tiny details.

Sound is amazingly detailed and while I really miss EAX 5.0 (software 3D renderers used in modern games make environmental sounds feel artificial and sort of plasticky) that would give it that proper realistic material feel to the sounds, It’s still good. I especially loved the EVA sequence where you hear pieces of debris hitting your EVA suit and helmet. It just felt so realistic and overwhelming. Especially since whole game is based on being aware of the sounds and the fact that half of the sounds will scare the shit out of you. Music is also great and makes really amazing and tense atmosphere in the parts before you meet the alien, however once you have to actually deal with it, I had to disable music. I prefer to play realistic as a true survivor against a terrifying alien creature, so trying to work out its footsteps over the entire orchestra slamming on the instruments wasn’t all that helpful. It’s sort of part which is great, but is conflicting with the game mechanics. One important fact to point out, this is one of the rare games where motion tracker, a first person player device affects the outer world beyond just a player “element” or a device in your hands. If you use a motion tracker when alien is very close to you, it will actually hear it. So it can help or doom you if you’re not careful. Really nice detail. Oh and you just have to play it with headphones. It’s the only proper way to play such a game. With headphones and a dark room. Only that way you experience the visual and audio together in an almost perfect form.

And with the sound affecting gameplay, there are also weapons that do the same. Holding molotov cocktail or flamethrower primed in your hands and the alien will actually see the flame and it will attract it. Just the same as with the sound, something I’ve never seen in any other game and really adds up to the realism factor. Initial weapons like the revolver are not of any match against the alien and they just attract more shit onto you, but alien is afraid of fire and once you get those kinds of weapons, things become a bit more forgiving and while you still have to think a bit since ammo is not exactly plentiful, you are allowed to make mistakes since it will not mean an instant death anymore.

There were also some complaints over few game elements like alien discovering their hiding places “randomly”. That’s not true at all. All such scenarios that people complained about were not “random” because the game decided so, but because they made crucial mistakes. And I could see all that in their Youtube recordings. You can read more about them in my Alien Survival guide down below, but they mostly violated sneaking rules where they simply walked or even sprinted when alien was in the room. That will always give you away. Or not taking into account alien field of vision. While it often doesn’t see you when you’re hiding, being hidden under a bench where alien can see you from the side of it from a far, that’s not random, that you picking a wrong hiding spot. Plain and simple. In the entire game, I’ve NEVER been discovered randomly, because I was very careful when picking hiding spots. And when I was discovered, I simply fucked up my timing. But it was NEVER random. The other cases that I’ve seen were people bringing up motion tracker or molotov and flamethrower when alien was nearby. Those 2 things mentioned above that people apparently aren’t aware of. The first person weapon effects that affect world around the player. So, the alien is not “cheating” as some say, they just screwed up. Only place where alien felt like it’s cheating is on Hard difficulty. It wasn’t more difficult as such, I could just clearly see the game directing it towards me even though I sneaked past it like a true ninja. So, playing it on medium is really a must if you want to make alien feel like a real living creature and not like a scripted cheating robot.

Save points and lack of auto saving. I disagree with both. There is auto saving when you enter trains, most elevators and even some game sections towards the end of the game. And the save points really aren’t any different from Dead Space 1 saving stations. There are enough of them not to make the game too frustrating and they force you to decide how you’ll progress through the game. I’ve saved so many times even though it said “Hostiles nearby”. It was really tense to pick a critical moment and get to the saving station and save. And in the entire game, not a single time I got caught during the saving. There were near “hit” moments, but never got killed while saving. It adds to the tension and atmosphere. I generally hate limited saving, but having Quick save and Quick load in this game, you’d basically be slamming that all the time and that would kill the experience for sure. I used to be one of those quick save junkies because I’m a perfectionist in my life. So, game forcing me to do things more slowly and carefully actually makes sense and I appreciate it.

Next major complaint was backtracking and re-using of the existing game levels. I frankly didn’t feel like they were annoying at all. In fact, they gave the Sevastopol that immersive feel that you’re actually walking inside a meaningful structure and not just endless unique corridors that never repeat themselves or make meaningful connections to each other. But they did it in a fine way and not like developers did in Halo with freaking copy and pasted 6 bridges, countless retarded copy pasted Library corridors and copy and pasted end ship with just a bit different burned textures. I still take that as the worst offense in level design history and I always compare games to that. Alien:Isolation was nothing like that. Yes, you do walk through same transit stations few times and you do walk through some of the older sections, but just so you can get to the doors and parts that were out of reach in the beginning. Anyone who played System Shock 2 has experienced the same and it gave that immersive feeling just the same. It just feels proper and physical if you can always return to most of the game level parts. Which you can and all the gadgets, objects and items will be still there after hours you left them behind. It makes the world alive and meaningful and I actually like the level design decision for that.

Yes, the game has few minor issues and glitches, but if you look at it as a whole, the game is amazing experience and I think it is the best game I’ve played this year. And it’s certainly among the best games I’ve ever played in fact. You just have to experience it in a way the game was intended to be experienced. Invest time into proper sneaking, making sure you’re silent, sparing resources, make smart decisions. My idea was to play it as a true survivor, trying to die as little as possible and take as much time as needed to end the game as I was really trying to get away from a real alien. If you have the intention to just rush through the game, forget it. You’ll miss half of the game and you’ll also miss half of the true survival experience. People are so obsessed these days to finish the games as quickly as possible and then brag about it on forums. I’m not ashamed of playing this game for full 32 hours. I’m proud of that fact and I wish more players would take more time to enjoy the games. Because when you’ll play it for the second time, the experience will never ever be the same, because you already know how levels look, what major will happen through the story and what’s the end like. So take time and experience the game fully the first time.

I’m not going to give it a % score of X out of 10 score, I’ll just say that game is excellent if you’re willing to invest your time in it properly. And as such, the game earns that cult status. You know, the: “Every time you mention Alien:Isolation, someone will reinstall it.” thing? System Shock 2 has it, so does Deus Ex. And I think Alien:Isolation certainly deserves that same cult status. Masses will not love it, but every time you’ll hear a mention of this game, it will bring back all the amazing and terrifying experiences that you’ve had in it. And that’s for me worth more than anything else.

Buy the game and support developers like Creative Assembly, who have some grande cojones to release a game of such type in times where everyone churn out Call of Duty clones on yearly basis just because that business model guarantees money. They’ve instead gone for the “by gamers for gamers” model. Reward them by opening your wallet. And because it’s the right thing to do.

Here is also my Alien Survival for Dummies guide:
http://rejzor.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/alien-survival-for-dummies/

You might be surprised how many of the “rules” you’ve violated when you got caught by the alien. Or how many ways there were to get around a problem. I think there are quite a lot of really useful tips and ways that will give you a new view on a game replay value.

Sennheiser MX375 earphones review

As much as Sennheiser is well known for their high end audio peripherals, they also provide quite a lot of very affordable gadgets for your multimedia life.

I used to own Sennheiser MX470, but they got physically damaged at the jack-cable joint, because I’ve dragged my laptop from the desk several times because I forgot I was wearing them or because my dog or someone else walked through the cord… Anyway, I loved MX470 because they lasted the longest considering the extreme abuse and they had a really good sound quality along with decent bass and comfortable wear. And they weren’t that expensive.

MX470 model isn’t available anymore, but Sennheiser offers MX475 which are rather similar to my old ones, even spec wise, but a lot cheaper than MX470 used to cost back then. But after some thought, I said what the hell and decided for the MX375. While the name suggest they are lower model than MX470 or MX475, they in fact offer higher frequency range, up to 22kHz (MX470/MX475 only go up to 20kHz). MX375 provide amazingly clear sound with slightly less bass than MX470, but still deep and punchy enough to be really nice listening experience. I’m a huge fan of vocal trance and as such I need both, good bass and also crystal clear vocals. And to my surprise, the MX375 delivers both with excellence (in my opinion).

Construction wise, they are similar to MX470. Angled 3,5mm jack, symmetric cord design that isn’t adjustable like on MX470 (I never used that anyway), no volume control and classic ear phones that don’t actually go inside the ear channel, but hang on the ear channel “entrance”. I just don’t like things stuck deep in my ears and those silicone plugs always get all nasty even if you keep your ears clean all the time. Changing ear buds is always easier for me and the come cheap from eBay. Having no volume control on the cord is not really a disadvantage. Sure it come in handy sometimes, but the fact they are always the weakest link on the cable, they always lose the connection to the cord after few accidents like I had above sooner or later. Or they just start to make sound all crackling and skipping when the sliding button gets worn out and dusty. Sennheiser also places a raised dot on the left earpiece, giving you ability to know which channel is left and which is the right even in complete darkness by just touching the earpiece, which is quite useful.

Only thing that I slightly dislike is a bit cheap feeling thinner cord which doesn’t feel as posh as it did on MX470. But that’s really the only downside that I could find.

Sennheiser MX375 come in a blister package with a pair of black ear buds and black synthetic leather pouch with Sennheiser brand on the side for earphones storage.

The selection of such type of earphones is really poor as all companies seem to be obsessed with those crappy silicone ear plugs (that I absolutely hate) nowadays and out of all those you can hardly find, Sennheiser clearly delivers good earphones for affordable price. If you also don’t like those in-ear silicone plugs, consider these (or even MX475). I think you won’t be disappointed.

Sennheiser MX375 retailed for around 11 € (incl. VAT) on Amazon Germany, where I bought them.

avast! Antivirus 2015 released!

AVAST Software has released a new major version of their flagship product avast Antivirus today. Here is the list of major changes/improvements:

• HTTPS scanning
Ability to detect and decrypt TLS/SSL protected traffic in the Web-content filtering component. This feature will protect you against viruses coming through HTTPs traffic as well as adding compatibility for SPDY+HTTPS/ HTTP 2.0 traffic. You can tune/disable this feature in the settings section.

• AVAST NG
A hardware based virtualization solution capable of running each Windows process in standalone safe virtualized environment (VM) and fully integrated to your desktop. Each process is executed in its own instance of VM, which means totally isolated from your other applications. This feature is now powering the Avast DeepScreen, resulting in better detection. Avast NG requires HW virtualization enabled.

• SecureDNS (this feature is active in the paid versions only)
A new provider which guards against unprotected DNS/DNS hijack on a router/client (including unsecured networks, public ones, etc.).

• Home Network Security

Scan your home network for vulnerabilities (wifi status, connected devices, router settings, factory passwords, etc.). It helps to discover potential problems not isolated on the particular device only, but in the entire network of devices you use or connect to the Internet from.

• Smart Scan

Integrated all on demand scans into one (Antivirus, Software updates, Home Network, GrimeFighter). One scan, different results and recommendations.

• New Support System
Easy contact for paid users to submit a ticket with all info included automatically. Improved knowledge base for free users. Help is completely online and is more up to date.

• General bugfixing
This covers a lot of stability & performance changes in all components (but the main focus was traditionally on the network & engine components).

avast! Free download with referer (if you weant to help me out)
http://www.avast.com/get/PylIx3WC

Download locations
http://files.avast.com/iavs9x/avast_free_antivirus_setup.exe
http://files.avast.com/iavs9x/avast_pro_antivirus_setup.exe
http://files.avast.com/iavs9x/avast_internet_security_setup.exe
http://files.avast.com/iavs9x/avast_premier_antivirus_setup.exe

avast! cleaner:
http://files.avast.com/iavs9x/avastclear.exe

My updated, super silent, fully automated config file for the new avast! 2015:

http://rejzor.wordpress.com/avast-2015-protection-tweaks/

It should be possible to install this version on top of your existing avast! installation (all settings should be preserved). Or you can use in-product updater.

Enjoy this release!