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Saturday, December 08, 2007

For Sunday: Hijacking Catastrophe

When it comes to 9/11, Iraq and the Bush administration - I highly recommend Hijacking Catastrophe. It's a pretty thoughtful and well researched look at recent history.

Or, if you'd rather have the glitzy version:

Friday, December 07, 2007

Crazy Taxi In The Real World

Remember, when your cabbie asks you to put on your safety harness, either do so or get out:

Thanks Tokyomango, who also gives a handful of translations.

Book Listen: The Golden Compass

I've probably mentioned this before - but I don't read nearly as much as I used to read. My saving grace with literature has been the rising production values of audiobooks - a trend we might be able to attribute to the popularity of the Potter books and the many parents who opted to have a professional narrate it for them.

The audiobook of The Golden Compass tightens the distance between someone simply reading a book and a radio play. For one thing, the book is narrated by the author himself, Philip Pullman. Secondly, all the main characters have their own voice actors - so the story isn't handicapped by a singular talent who can provide a wide range but usually still stumbles with one voice or another. The voices here are done by London stage actors and it really shows.

Not to make this too much of a post-modern book review (as in one that spends volumes commenting on the craftsmanship of the spine) - The Golden Compass is also a great read. The alternate world Pullman has created is unique and interesting and manages to avoid feeling derived ... unlike how most books tailored for both young and old readers fall prey.

The controversy surrounding the movie, being released this weekend, is rather silly. Sure, Pullman did once say "my books are about destroying God" - but what exactly are the Christian groups afraid of here? Bands of children looking for nautical devices in order to take down deities? It's kinda like the boycott of Harry Potter because it "advocates witchcraft". Are there really a large enough number of people actually afraid of witchcraft to warrant a boycott?

Unfortunately it looks like the movie might not be worth the time to boycott anyway, as it sounds rather like Weitz's adaptation has managed to cut the daemon away from the story, or in other words sucked the life right out of it. If that's the case - I'd recommend a good listen instead.

Really Ineffective Trash Talking

Really, this isn't going to cut it:


OK, let's start with the obvious. The guy's dead. You can't claim you owned someone when you're dead. That shouldn't even require explanation, it's like saying you can't stay dry while you're in the pool. You died. You own nothing.

Not to mention he killed me in pretty much the same way I killed him - shoving a flamethrower in my face. Now, I love me some pyro - but I'll also be the first to admit the class doesn't really require a lot of skill (some stealth, maybe) - because essentially you're just shoving a flamethrower in faces. We both did this to each other and then moments later some actual soldiers ran by and finished us off.

And - and I'll preface this by saying I think the point system in Team Fortress is a bit off, but it's what we have - I had a handful of points over this guy. Actually, I had a handful of points over all of his clan except for one guy who kept a point ahead of me. I think this is largely because half of them kept declaring things as being owned or pwned or nwbs or what not and probably dying while typing a great deal.

For instance, we slug it out on Gravel Pit until almost the last bell and when a victory finally arrives, someone announced "owned". Look, people, if we keep abusing our slang like this it will lose all its meaning. If you think a suifrag is "pwning nwbs" and a close win is owning the either team, pretty soon we'll have everything being owned. People will come out of Starbucks proclaiming they own their damn latte. Your teachers will own you, your co-workers, your grandmother.

It's not a pretty sight, so please trash talk responsibly.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wii Transfer Rocks - Also Gives Away Wii

I saw on TUAW that Riverfold is giving away a Wii to some lucky winner and they won't even make you buy their quite wonderful Wii Transfer software to do it. Although that be a bit of buying the horse and all that.

Though if you're an OS X user and have a Wii already, I highly recommend Wii Transfer. Well, if you have an iTunes you like at least. It's basically makes a website that you can hit your iTunes, iPhoto and converted movies with - and naturally it runs just dandy on the Wii's Internet Channel. Waiting on my registration key now.

On Gerstmann, On Reviews, On WTF Else Is There

I wasn't going to blog about this as it is hard to care about a review I didn't watch for a game I'm not going to play anytime soon or what happened after. But I started to rant on when Thomas brought it up and so here it is.

So I watched the video review and thought it was honestly a pretty bad review. Bad as in quality of the review, although I don't think K&L looks like it is exactly masterpiece theater. Jeff complained constantly about how dark the characters were and how much swearing they do and how he thought it was an ugly game - and by constantly I mean he kept bitching about it even when talking about the multiplayer at the end. Really, I got it the first fifteen times. That K&L is trying some of the most inventive multplayer we've seen in a few years and that is so rare it really, really isn't funny might have been mentioned a little more instead of complaining about the ugly any more.

Not saying he should get fired over it - but honestly if that was the standard he held, I'm not going to cry over it. And no, I don't think Gamespot should have behaved like the electronic three stooges in trying to deal with the onslaught of negativity that followed it. Half of what they did either was conspiratorial or almost looked like someone trying to look conspiratorial, not the opposite effect one would have thought they were going to try to achieve. Heck, if the conspiracy theory is true then think of trouble they could have saved if they had just waited a couple of months.

Honestly, I believe Gamespot's PR at this point simply because it has been my experience that companies which are both evil and stupid don't last very long.

My other thought with it is that gamers are really, really harsh about the connection between publishers and reviewers but really, really don't want to do a damn thing about it. What I mean by a damn thing is pay for it. Gaming mags either routinely fail or run on shoestring budgets (which are also paid for with advertising cash), the Internet is the the primary source for gamers information largely because it can be advertised based.

So let's say there is bias and it is based on who pays the checks ... what's the alternative? Do we think some ultimate good or virtuous state will arise if everyone just boycotts Gamespot? There's never going to be a certificate of honesty from an organization which is paid by the people they review ... so you either have to take their word at face value or change the model. And just because this dusted into a real storm this time doesn't mean there isn't a constant dialtone of complaint amongst gamers that reviewers are held in hock ... so I'm not sure how many were taking them at face value.

Course that dialtone might just be out of sync with reality, as forum chatter doesn't really reflect the real world. I've never really bought into this particular theory and honestly think most game reviews are more burdened by short turn around times than any adversarial advertiser.

Point is - if you don't like it, stop waiting for moments of dramatic crucification and figure out something different. Go support smaller sites like GamerDad or the like.

Cuz Giving Is Child's Play

I'm currently multi-tasking like a mofo, browsing my ActionScript to see why my SOQL statements is returning null (even though I'm using id numbers previously retrieved), listening to plumbers bang on pipes above and below, fending off a dog who can't quite figure out what "working from home" actually entails and believes it should definitely not entail anything that I'm currently blogging about, catching up on emails and trying desperately to make holiday shopping an effort in procrastination. In the process, saw my bookmark to Child's Play staring at me.

If you do one thing this holiday season, go donate to Child's Play, set up by a couple of guys most gamers are familiar with (though if you were already familiar one, you probably knew that. It helps kids and reminds people that gamers aren't sociopathic shutins at the same time. What could be better?

You can buy stuff off of Amazon and have it shipped right off to a hospital. I have no earthly idea why there aren't any Chicago hospitals on the list, so here's what I'm shipping off to one in St. Louis:

Simba Doctor Dog Vet Kit - Simba Toys
Honestly, too freakin' cute not to get

Cars - PS2
A decent movie tie-in for a game, I hear.

Cars (Widescreen Edition) - Owen Wilson
So they get the movie too

Animal Crossing: Wild World
Because kids need to learn that sometimes life is about paying off your debts to some crazy raccoon.

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
Hey, it's on my list too

Brain Age
Consider it something to keep their brains from going to mush after playing all these games...

Mario Kart
I saw that they already had a couple and they clearly need another for decent wireless play

Classic Etch A Sketch Magic Screen
Well, it's freakin' etch a sketch. Every kid should have one

OK, I might have gone a little overboard, but I didn't give last year - so I'm playing a little catchup. They have a wide range of items, so even if you just want to find some $10 gift that gets Prime shipping - you're still doing a bit of good.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When Rockets Go Bad

Not that rockets generally "go good" - but here's a great bit of Japanese news featuring a rocket launcher against bullet proof glass.

Thanks MAKE.

Shop Like It's 1999

Snopes is being geektastic this week. Here's a clip of how 1967 thought shopping in 1999 would be, and it's actually not far off:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Paradroid That Never Was

One of those classics of gaming that could really be interesting to remake.

TV Watch: Heroes Season Two "Year End" Finale

In what is the industry favorite euphemism for "we wanted to cheap out on Internet royalties so our writers stopped writing and he only had half a season so the story just ends here", Heroes had the "Year End" finale last night. It's a little hard to tell with a show like Heroes just what that actually means since the plot generally goes from one cliffhanger to another anyway.

The second season of Heroes feels very much like a sequel to the first. Some of the good elements remain while several hoops are being jumped to maintain focus on characters who only peripherally really deal with the plot anymore. Nikki's entire storyline feels grafted onto the show largely as an excuse to keep her in the show and while Super Cousin might have some potential, major stumbles like the iPod Of The Future kinda makes it a groaner. The whole revelation that an injection of Claire's blood apparently makes one Wolverine also adds a slew of needless complications. Why can't anyone's powers be transferred this way? Claire has what ... mutant red and white blood cells?

At least the core story clicks pretty well. The conflict between Nate and Peter, Hiro and Adam, and ... oh, somewhere that cop guy keeps showing up too. Least he isn't moaning on about his wife. Heroes still delivers some slick looking scenes and pretty decent action numbers, not to mention being one of the better looking shows on right now. The main plot not only hangs together - but maintains a level of intrigue even if it too feels a little rehashed from last year as well (time travel to foresee a terrible event, Peter being the catalyst between good and evil, etc.)

So while we end on a high note, with the virus plot being well flushed out - now we're stuck with Sylar again. Still unclear as to why the Company left him in a shack in a Mexican outland with basically one person and an unlocked door to guard him ... Sylar is quite possibly the most lethal living being on the planet and The Company guarded him with all the care of a pet hamster. So, gee, surprise, he's back.

Which, while I'm liking the show more than I did early in the season, I'm rather dreading its return.

Radiskull #1

By popular demand (of Duncan, that is), here is Radiskull and Devil Doll:

1956 5 MB External Hard Drive

The 350 Disk Storage Unit consisted of the magnetic disk memory unit with its access mechanism, the electronic and pneumatic controls for the access mechanism, and a small air compressor. Assembled with covers, the 350 was 60 inches long, 68 inches high and 29 inches deep. It was configured with 50 magnetic disks containing 50,000 sectors, each of which held 100 alphanumeric characters, for a capacity of 5 million characters.

Disks rotated at 1,200 rpm, tracks (20 to the inch) were recorded at up to 100 bits per inch, and typical head-to-disk spacing was 800 microinches. The execution of a "seek" instruction positioned a read-write head to the track that contained the desired sector and selected the sector for a later read or write operation. Seek time averaged about 600 milliseconds.

With storage capacities of 5 million and 10 million digits, and the capability to be installed either singly or in pairs, the 350 provided the 305 system with storage capacities of 5, 10, 15 or 20 million characters.

An IBM RAMAC 305 with a 350 disk storage unit leased for about $3,200 per month back in 1957. Over a thousand of the 305 systems (one of IBM's last vacuum tube units) were manufactured before production ended in 1961, and the 305 was withdrawn in 1969.
-- Snopes - Computer Storage

Weighed over a ton. Maybe I'll stop cursing at my Lenovo Thinkpad now.

(nah, I'll keep cursing at it)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

DVD Watch: Futurama: Bender's Big Score

A friend from work loaned this to us since Netflix has it on "very long wait". Honestly there's not much to say about it other than it is good - I mean really, really good. A solid treat for Futurama fans everywhere.

Brilliant Maytag Support

The Girl wants to move one of our adjustable shelves. She's already drawn some blood in the process, so I decided to read the f'n manual. Problem is, Maytag doesn't seem to think it has one.

If you go to their site to download a manual, it will ask you for your model number. There's no alternative to browse models or anything, just the number. I tried ours - no results. I tried three other models I found online with adjustable shelves .... also no results. Did someone forget to maybe actually upload the stupid manuals?

I then tried the FAQ to find that the "next" arrow for moving pages just reloads the current page. Brilliant.

Stainboy #1

Did you know there was cartoon by Tim Burton with music by Elfman? I didn't - but there it is, from Atom films.

Cosplay Images

Decent series of cosplay images, via Glinkster.

For Sunday: Star Wars Revelations