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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Po Little Co: Bill Kristol On Daily Show

I'm watching Bill Kristol talking with Stewart right now and it is completely disturbing. Almost sad. The intellectual dishonesty is clear and seems a little hard to wear.

For Kristol, I mean, of course. Every time he defends McCain he gets this look on his face like he is about to cry and laugh at the same time.

First - can we stop pretending as if Palin has gotten a bad rap? What? She can't take some Tina Fey jokes? This is a woman who is repeatedly trying to call Barack a terrorist so don't give me this crap about how Caribou Barbie is unfair.

The woman is a radical right wing religious hardliner who has just won the political lottery of the century. She was also brought in during one of the most negative campaigns run in some time. Obama called off the potential scandal of her family, told a rally of his to stop booing McCain - but she won't even pause to perhaps suggest that the n-word might be off base.

The current talk is that the Republican think tank is considering pushing Palin for a 2012 run. I can only hope this is true. Perhaps in hindsight they'll realize that this election year has been a repudiation of the Rovian tactics which may have served well in simpler times and before the veil of 9/11 became as transparent as it was - that perhaps drumming up the fringe while hoping the middle won't notice. While McCain has been courting the same groups that helped push Bush over the narrow margin, the Democratic party has been actually getting some smarts when it comes out to pushing early voting, getting out the vote and maintaining focus on the issues.

Kristol seems to be stuck in this paradigm as well. His support for a campaign which has clearly gone off the rails, as well for a woman that - as John himself pointed out - would be far more likely to attack a man in Kristol's shoes as not being part of "Real America" than do the same - must be as painful of a position to keep as it was to watch.

Is LittleBigPlanet A Better Spore?

I'm not going to say LittleBigPlanet is a better (or worse) game than Spore. They're just too different in most ways for a decent comparison. It's a flame war that doesn't have to be fought.

But there is a thread where the two are very alike. Both games are driven by user created content. Both games offer an online universe to share and play this content. Both games offer an innovative editor to generate the content.

And I think in nearly everything along the thread, LittleBigPlanet edges out ahead. Bouncing in between user generated levels, story mode and the editor is a lot different than having another random creature come over the edge. The scale of the control that you have in the editor is empowering, whereas Spore's felt a lot like window dressing.

This isn't so much a critique of Spore, but rather a preference and some praise for LBP. However, I did have one crash last night while trying to leave a game - hopefully LBP will be successful in both generating good content and keeping the lights on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Game Play: LittleBigPlanet Quick Thoughts

I only had enough time last night to do a quick dive into Sony's much anticipated hit, Little Big Planet. So here's a few quick thoughts:

This may be the best tutorial ever made for a game and will be damn hard to beat for a while. It's entertaining, it feels like you're playing and not being lectured, you get to explore and it has Stephen Freaking Fry.

I've read some complaints about Sackboy's jumping controls. I don't know if they were tweaked in the patch at all, but I didn't have any real problems. I'm not a huge platformer fan in general, but in the first few levels very little annoyed me.

The LBP servers were down last night. Boo. I didn't miss much as I had just gotten to the "larger" game, ie where I think you can start playing with the creator, but the grace period won't last long.

Even as someone who doesn't like platformers, I had a lot of fun.

If the design doesn't make you at least a little happy - you might need medication. This is one of the most adorable games in the wide world of adorable games.

Monday, October 27, 2008

TV Watch, Heroes: Eris Quod Sum

A pretty even episode, all in all - more of a bridge episode than anything else as with the exception of Sylar and Suresh, very little moved. And in Suresh's case, his flip to Pinehearst happened so fast that I blinked and nearly missed it.

But really my pain point is Claire at the moment. I'm just not buying the whole "going painless breaks me" routine. It feels forced and overwrought. Honestly I would think it would be more logical to become afraid of not being invulnerable than not feeling pain.

A close second is Black Fear. For one thing, the show should avoid any character that is required to describe his power every time it's used. Second, the whole bogeyman routine just doesn't cut it for me - there's not much reason I see for people to actually be scared in the first place.

The plot hangs more or less together and the show is starting to dip into the backstory pretty well. The formula and how it ties into the characters makes for a nice container to the events in general. Heroes confounds me a lot, but I still find it pretty compelling overall.

Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls to crossover

“Very bittersweet,” Fuller admitted, “because I loved [Wonderfalls] and the cast. So much so, that I had to do a Wonderfalls crossover in this season of Pushing Daisies. That happens in episode eight of the second season and I’m really excited about it.”
-- Bryan Fuller Plans 'Pushing Daisies'/'Wonderfalls' Crossover

Some heartstring of mine just made a yipping noise.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Game Play: Lux Touch (iPhone)

Lux is a longstanding, multiplatform, Risk clone and Sillysoft has brought it to the iPhone in the form of Lux Touch. Lux Touch is free and quite simply a great port of the gameplay we're all familiar.

Sillysoft has done a great job of expanding Lux in general, so let's hope they continue that on the iPhone.

Apple And The HDTV: Our Mini As Media Server

For a while there, we used my Mini to download movies and then when we wanted to watch them on the big screen, we just moved it into the living room and hooked it directly up to the the TV.

Then we got the 50" plasma, our laptops and the PS3. It got to be easier to just download stuff to my laptop and then wirelessly stream them to the PS3 and view it that way. It was also a pretty cool party trick.

Two problems with that, though, is that movie watching became dependent on how well my network was running - usually OK, but sometimes we'd get the occasional annoying pause - and I couldn't use my laptop while we were doing things. Well, I probably could but I didn't really want my compiles slowing down Doctor Who.

So now we have the Mini permanently behind the TV, hooked up via DVI. If I've torrented something, I can just access the Mini's Drop Box folder, drag and drop the torrent file to it, and then Transmission picks it up and does the work. We've got a bluetooth keyboard and a trackball, but then I found AirMouse for the iPhone which works like a total charm for couch orientated control. If need be I can VNC in as well.

The only other trick I'm considering is a way to email myself torrent files, have an app on the Mini which monitors the inbox and pulls them if found.

But put that on the large pile of unfinished apps, games and Great American Novels I've planned as well...

As I'm writing this, there are questions about whether Apple will keep the Mini in its lineup. I certainly hope that they do - it's a great design and fits a niche that few other computers really can. Without the Mini, we'd be stuck with a Windows based solution for sure to get anything nearly this convenient.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Qore Qan Qinda Qiss My Ass

OK, seriously.

I bought the August edition of Qore primarily for the Resistance Beta. Don't get me wrong, I think Veronica does a fine job and some of the interviews were interesting and all - but paying for the kind of information wasn't attractive without the beta tossed in.

The beta is out and all I've got is this damn Burger King ad for my troubles. Originally the beta was due "in late September", mind you. When I go to the link, I still get the unavailable error. I paid for Burger King ad. Yay.

So maybe in the second wave, or whatnot, I don't know. I don't really care. Don't sell me an issue based on a beta you can't deliver and don't give me a damn download link that I have no idea if it will never, ever work. I can get better experiences for free and, well, quite honestly from now on plan on doing just that.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie Watch: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I really wanted to like this movie.

And the guilty truth is - in some ways I did. In some ways I enjoyed it because Indiana Jones is a fun character and Harrison Ford plays him just so very, very well. That's the telling truth about the movie, though, it's watching Ford recapture the charm of his performance that give the film its own - but so much of the rest that hangs around that wry smirk is a low and embarrassing pillage of a franchise that shows, if anything else, that George Lucas needs to stop writing completely.

Spoilers continue.

Let's start with the scene that most everyone has heard about by now, even if you haven't seen the movie. The fridge scene. "Nuke the fridge" is a phrase which is quickly becoming the new "jump the shark" as fewer and fewer people remember Fonzie in the first place.

Long ago I had lunch with someone who used to get the chance to help edit screenplays while they were in pre-production. One action movie had a scene where the hero is protecting a block of C-4 from various flames while running down a tunnel. He pointed out that C-4 is actually designed not to ignite under such situations. It was a pretty stupid writing blunder easily corrected with a bit of research.

The fridge scene makes that look like Ulysses. Ignoring that lead is no way a reasonable protection against the heat of a nuclear blast, surely one with the proximity required to send that fridge flying into the air safely - another action which defies the very laws of physics ... but even if it might have maintained some concept of armor that Indy would have merely been cooked like a November turkey ... we at least know in this day and age that Indy would have spent the rest of the movie dying of radiation poison at the least.

So in one hand, the fridge scene is like those funny "survive the bomb by hiding under your desk" films they used to show kids, only with a fridge instead, isn't funny and possibly makes even less sense.

That hand is already holding a pretty little pile of something stinky, but in the other hand the scene is indicative with what's wrong with the likes of Lucas these days. So in love with fancy computer graphics and the ability to edit all the logic out of a scene by distracting the audience, the fact that the screenplay is practically an insult to the audience's intelligence survives the cutting room floor.

And there's no excuse why that scene did survive the cutting room floor. It's a flimsy segue to another scene and could have been replaced with a fade and some edits in dialogue. Snap. Snip. Snap. Better movie. Better Lucas and Spielberg are like kids at their first college kegger - drunk, out of control, messy and completely oblivious to the above.

The scenes that follow cascade from this fact to varying degrees. While some, if not most, are at least fun to watch - even the best can't rise above popcorn fluff.

The original Indiana Jones captured the joy of a simple action adventure movie while never losing sight on the characters themselves. The best, most memorable, most entertaining scene of the entire franchise was shot while Harrison had a fever, was completely improved and didn't use a single frame of computer animation.

I'm the first person to wave the flag of technology and proudly try to claim new land by shoving it firmly into the ground. The sad fact, though, is that it may have helped men like Lucas rise to where they are now - it stopped helping them make better movies years and years ago.

Sometimes it even just helps make them worse.

Another View: The State Of The Mod

The regenerative cycle of modders coming and going means that few begrudge such commercial interest, even if it hampers or even threatens ambitious projects like Warm Gun and Airborn (pictured on p81). Games and their mods inhabit the same ecosystem, after all, if not the same shelves. The fate of outfits like Trauma Studios, however, the team behind Battlefield 1942 mod Desert Combat, has raised ethical concerns which are far from unique in the industry overall.
-- The State Of The Mod [Next Gen]

The "ethical concerns" are discussed a bit and somewhat dismissed in the full article - and I think that's fair. I think the industry is pretty honest with the mod community for the most part, but it doesn't change the fact that said community has become something of a feeding pool for a ravenous crowds. I think it's quite telling that the article has nothing but screenshots of interesting maps, concept designs, and otherwise artistic mod efforts - but the fact remains that these efforts are the true dying breed.

Mods, in general, will never die because portions of the industry have become to accustomed to them or have too many ties into the mod community in general. The loop now, though, is about developing young talent to be either implement free content or fill upcoming professional ranks. The same industry pressure, though, means that experimentation with genres and gameplay is risky and nearly impossible to attract the same kind of team that would be required to make a full game.

Don't get me wrong - innovation exists and it's not like new blood doesn't inherently bring new ideas ... but it's not the same kind of innovation that small teams (or individuals) used to be able to garner any attention for ... the kind of innovation which brought us Capture The Flag, Counter-Strike and more.

NaNoWriMo Around The Corner

It's about to be NaNoWriMo time, and this is not going to be an easy year for me. I'll start the month off with a conference in San Fran and end it with the normal family bonanza and we might have a vacation in Door County in between, cutting my workable nights down considerably. Sadly The Girl doesn't accept NaNo as a decent reason for her to drive while I type either...

However NaNo is not about the finish, but rather about the rather insane march into producing something quasi-unreadable in the first place. And in light of recent events though, I don't think I could not do it this year. In preparation for my probable defeat, though, I think I'll be diverging from the normal format of "string random plot events together in the hopes of a storyline" and have a variety of starting points to tell shorter stories instead. Whether these will use the same characters, be interwined, whatnot, etc - we'll see.

Currently the name is "30 Fortunes" and the plan is to use fortune cookie fortunes as the impetus for the stories. Actually, my first task will be to start collecting fortunes...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Netflix has a Blu-Ray Tax?

When adding Blu-Ray to our Television queue at Netflix for the first time, we got a message saying it would cost an additional $1.00 a month:

Seems odd - a Blu-Ray disc is exactly as easy to stuff into an envelope as a DVD. Is it the extra cost of the format itself? The cost of having a framework for deciding between the formats versus the lack of adoption?

For Sunday: Death Star Cantina

Eddie Izzard + Legos = awesome

Friday, October 17, 2008

Game Play: Dead Space, First Look

I'm a couple hours into Dead Space now and if I had one line to say about the game, it is this:

Someone did their homework.

I mean, really, when you start to pull the game apart you see components strewn from various parts of FPS and survival horror neatly and nicely geared to fit together. Clearly, there's Doom - not just the first but the third as well. One might wonders if this wasn't far more the game that Carmack intended with Doom III with its excellent use of lighting and sound in gameplay. There's enough Half-Life that Isaac might as well be a cousin of Gordon Freeman, with his stoic and shy nature (but more on that later).

Level design is a beautiful combination of System Shock and Resident Evil - although it is interesting that we are still strapped with some of the same "find blue key" mechanics from nearly every shooter ever made. The air sequences from Doom III have been refitted - and combined with zero gravity zones are quite a lot of fun.

Naturally we also see Max Payne and Half-Life 2 crop up with "stasis" and "kinetics" instead of "bullet time" and "grav gun" - and thankfully they feel more useful than cliche (although any usage of these mechanics runs the risk at this point). We get a dash, but only a dash, of Deus Ex style inventory and weapon upgrades.

The growing call for "HUDless" design in especially survival horror is near perfect here, combined with an improved Resident Evil 4 aiming convention and some impressive floating HUD components which appear when needed. I'm quite glad, though, that Isaac is not allowed to heal by leaning up against a wall. I'm half surprised we don't see more of the herb mechanic for healing, actually.

What's impressive for me, though, is that these don't feel like lifts from another playbook. They've been integrated very tightly and the game feels like it has been extremely well tuned for the mechanics at play.

My biggest complaint, actually, is that Dead Space follows the same narrative style as Half-Life 2. I actually find Issac's lack of speech somewhat jarring considering the situation. He doesn't scream, doesn't offer consolation or advice - Isaac feels cold to me. His search for Nicole, which I'm sure will have some kind of plot twists to come, seems silly and futile at this point. The last guy I ran into died while ramming his head into a wall - what hope should Isaac have that Nicole is still alive?

In general, though, two thumbs up. The game isn't just looks, but brains too. It manages to be one of the spookiest titles I've run across - which is a hard goal for any game. Highly recommend.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

TV Watch: Heroes, Angels and Monsters

Spoilers warning.

Once again Heroes proves how it can spin a great beginning only to get tangled along the way. For the last couple of episodes, we've been bouncing between timelines and getting a moderately interesting peek into how some of the characters might diverge and change - and interesting take on character development in general.

The problem is - the main plot continues to unravel in simple bizarre ways and this week's episode seemed to explode with questions about what's going on with the show.

To start with, I couldn't agree more with Hiro and Ando's lament about, well, Hiro and Ando. Hiro can control time and space and here in this episode we see him able to essentially teleport Adam back into a coffin without a problem, but he's been unable to keep track of a few lousy pieces of paper for some time now and his "nemesis" is simply a hot chick who runs real fast. We're a far cry from future Hiro decked out leather for sure.

Hiro's problems with Ando have seemed pretty odd, to be honest - for a guy who has hopped around time as much as he has ... his reaction and treatment of Ando felt forced. Course, that was nothing compared to seeing Hiro shove a sword into Ando's chest for what seemed like very little reason at all. I'm guessing weird "fear is my strength" guy had something to do with it - but either The Girl and I microslept there a second or we couldn't figure out what Speed Girl and Fear Boy were doing there at all. They were looking for a job? What the hell? Hiro and Ando have been the prime motivator of pretty much this entire season's plotline - so it be nice if they started making at least an ounce of sense.

Thankfully if history has taught us anything it's that if Heroes can't make sense of itself, it will always at least make itself interesting in the end. So I'm still pretty positive about the show in general, just puzzled as usual.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dead Space Preview, Trailer

The Ypsilanti office of Cathode Tan sent along a quick note about the first few hours of EA's recently released, very well reviewed, horror piece Dead Space, which we've been covering off and on:

It is hard to avoid the comparisons to Doom, although visually it is a significant improvement, and overall the enviornments are the best I have seen in a space FPS. The pacing is a bit different from most FPS, in that you move rather slowly, as do many of the opponents. They are pretty tough however, and where you hit them (blowing off limbs is encouraged) makes a big difference as to how quickly they die. They also like to drop out of vents behind you. Also there are pretty big gaps between encounters, which are pretty much always telegraphed by sound effects. There are a few minor puzzles but nothing that slows things down much. An guide feature keeps you from getting lost. There are a lot of options for buying equiptment (only your first weapon is given to you, the rest are bought or unlocked with schematics at the store). Weapons and suit can be upgraded by power nodes which are found or bought. This is reminiscent of inventory in Deux Ex. All ammo is stored in inventory. You have a few tricks up your sleeve, a stasis effect that can be used with any weapon, and a gravity gun like effect. So far these serve mainly to get past the puzzles. Use of different weapons is encouraged by the variety of ammo that is found. All are very accurate but moderately powered (the 4 of 7 I have used). Some areas have no gravity and you move by launching yourself and walking with magnetic boots, these are intersting. The main character silent, plot is conveyed through video comm and logs of the deceased. The plot seems well constructed but not particularly novel. Overall, I am enjoying the game, but don't find it too hard to walk away from.

The game should be showing up Chicago-side tomorrow, so I'll be able to dig into myself by the weekend. Quite looking forward to it. It feels so much like Christmas in October at this point - Dead Space imminent, LittleBigPlanet on pre-order and Fallout 3 waiting in the wings.

Anyway, here's the latest trailer for eye candy value:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Well Now I Feel Old

My page on the old UnrealWiki has bee moved into legacy. Yikes.

Spore To Get Expansions, Lack Of Shock Thunders Nothing

Ars Technica gives a brief rundown of Creepy & Cute Parts Pack and a Space Stage expansion for EA's Spore.

Nobody is exactly surprised at this move - it's EA and the guy who made The Sims so the math was pretty obvious. Sadly I don't think either are destined to exactly reinvigorate my interest in the game. Oh, I might hop back into the game from time to time but there's an odd lack of variety to the gameplay (outside of the Creator itself) and the space stage doesn't need an expansion, imho, it needs a rewrite.

I hold out some hope that future expansion will give the twist, update or improvement the game deserves - and I may be judging the space on too quickly. Just have to wait and see.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is LittleBigPlanet A Game Changer?

Thanks to the old Curmudgeon for bringing by this link:

But the game has managed to do what console titles have thus far shuddered to provide - an open, easy to use creation system that lets the community make the magic, while the creators stand back and marvel.

Why is this such a big deal, and what makes LittleBigPlanet's air of creativity so different?
-- Opinion: Why LittleBigPlanet Is Web 2.0 For Games, Fulfilled

It's a pretty insightful look into the game and touches on or relates to things we've discussed here before: the evolution of mods, the community that consoles have the potential for and the power of user friendly creation tools.

While chatting with Matt on it, it occurred to me - does this signify Nintendo dropping the ball on the concept? Super Smash Brothers held a lot of promise for the Wii on this front, but most of that seems to have more or less evaporated after the release. Nintendo has a relatively mature network - but one burdened by its own concepts of linking users. It's got a massive user base ... could the big N being doing more to empower them?

Game Play: LED Football (iPhone)

Just a quick note about LED Football for the iPhone: if you remember the original device fondly, just go ahead and get it. It translates to a great little iPhone game. It doesn't really matter how long you play, it's simply but challenging and gives you nice little nostalgia fuzzies too. The emulation is simply spot on and at $0.99 - an easy sell.

Never Holiday With Sandals, Part Two

In the beginning, there was Sandals Travel Sucks (the first part).

Then we swam, ate, drank and generally had a merry time for a few days.

When it came time to leave though, we were pretty rightfully frightened considering the treatment Sandals had given us on the flight down. The Girl kept asking our butler (yes, we had a butler - but it's not really as swank as it sounds) to verify our schedule but we were continually told not to worry about it.

So I double checked the only flight information we had on hand - the original paper itinerary. This told us we needed to board around 9:45 and considering the amount of merry time we had the night before ... this proved somewhat difficult. We awoke and sloughed around 7 in the morning to shower, finish packing and harass the front desk. We were both in a state of pain from being hungover with very little sleep.

The front desk was certain we were to check out at 11, leave at 12 and board a plane at 2:35. This prompted a lot of questions from us. Were we still getting into Chicago at 7 if we were leaving half a day later than before? Were we going to have enough time in San Juan to make our connecting flight (without the use of a time machine)? Were we confirmed for this new flight out of San Juan?

The first story we got was the yes, we would still get to Chicago at 7:00. Yes, thirty minutes was enough time to exit the plane, get your luggage, get through customs and get to the other gate.

We were a bit skeptical of all this.

The second story we got was that we had about an hour in San Juan but we'd still get to Chicago later that night. We still didn't get any real confirmation on this phantom flight and never got confirmation that we were actually on that flight.

We were a bit skeptical of all this.

So noon rolls around and we're put into a cab and get sent off to the airport. We get to the American Airlines ticket counter.

We are told there has been a schedule change and there is no flight out of San Juan to Chicago. The best they can do is get us to Miami that night, hope we can get a hotel and then get to Chicago in the morning.

At this junction there are only three possibilities. Either Sandals is so woefully incompetent that they don't understand the difference between a plane being in existence and not being in existence, they know the difference but they were simply lying to us because they knew once we were off the resort we weren't their problem - or some combination of the two.

To make a long, painful, story short - we spent four hours in a Days Inn off Miami International. We made it into Chicago about 17 hours after we were supposed to originally. I missed a day of work and The Girl had no chance to clean or organize for our impending house guests. We've been in varying states of exhaustion ever since. Oddly being stuck for inside hotels, airports and airplanes for nearly a day cycle really throws the body out of whack.

Despite the fact that we had a plenty good time while on the island itself - our end summation is that there are plenty of resorts in the sea and we don't need to deal with one that treats its guest so carelessy from both a corporate and local level. The treatment was truly astonishing.

I've heard back from their odd, secret, internal customer service on the first part and the response was essentially a formal summary of their original stance. They process many flights like this and if a few customers fall through the cracks then well, shrug, ho hum and go sod off.

Which we would say to Sandals: the feeling is now mutual.

I sent a summary of this to the "internal customer service email" (whatever the hell that means). I had already sent the first post there and basically got a paraphrase of the same "this is our policy" nonsense that they gave us before.

This time I got nothing. Not even a "sorry for lying to" or, heck, even a sorry. Nothing at all. This is Sandals, people. Unless you're calling with your credit card in hand, they could really care less.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back. Momentarily Indisposed.

We're back. Our travel out was actually just as bad our travel in. Sandals more or less lied to us on our way out of the resort. I have like 67 more emails to go through, another cup of coffe, I feel like a bad Johnny Cash song and am pretty booked for the day - so the tale will have to wait for another day. This is the weekend of the Chicago Marathon, so I might not get a chance to do much until Monday.

To come later, other than another Sandals rant: some iPhone game reviews, some basic tips on travel entertainment and a description of the BitTorrent hookup we've got going on at home. Also, I'm trying to get some Q & A out of EA about the creation behind No Known Survivors still, so hopefully there will be some meat on that.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sandals Travel Sucks

So we are not in Antigua.

We might not be tonight.

Sandals booked our flight an hour after our connection was to leave. Without a time machine we were screwed.

Then things got bad. And weird. American Air was a champ. Karen V and your supervisor? Angels. Thanks again. After much work we were at least booked for the next day.

Then they noticed someone booked a local Carribean flght. American has no connection with them so they couldn't do much more than tell us it was there.

Mind you - if they hadn't ... nobody would have.

So we fly to San Juan and head to Liat, the local carrier, to see what is up. They are pretty much as surprised as we are to our predicament.

But we are booked.

It will just cost us $300.

I call Sandals Antigua. I get forwarded to what think was the front desk. This happened this morning too. And nobody picked up. This time nobody picked up.

So I call back. Last I called back I got into a debate which almost certainly sparked our odd booking.

This time I am almost certain someone hung up on me.

So I called the 800 number and got angry with one person and then the next and then a supervisor. At one point I was on hold for not one, not two but four Marley songs.

In the end I was told it was my fault.

All my fault.

Because in June and I think April I got emails that notified me of my schedule change. Apparently without calling them - and I kid you not - they aren't even aware it is happening.

Tip to Sandals: if you are going to send a blind email that will require me to say use a time machine to keep my schedule ... IT SHOULD SAY TIME MACHINE IN THE SUBJECT. That will get my attention.

But what if I had changed emails.

Or as The Girl pointed out - I was blind.

So far today I've disappointed, left on hold, left to a ringing phone, hung up on and ultimately blamed. A fine statement to the true nature of Sandals.

The highest name at Sandals I got was Yoni Epstein. Yoni: your service sucks. This entire setup sucks. And to pay what we have paid Sandals over two holidays and to be treated to and blamed for a $300 scenario is dangerously stupid.

I build software for a living, Yoni Epstein, and I can tell you were I truly responsible for this situation I would have been fired.

And anyone who thinks "blame the customer" is sound policy should be as well.

I haven't even made it to the resort and I can tell you we will never ever do Sandals again. And we don't recommend it to anyone else.

The Girl is opting to pay Liat and just get to beach drinks sooner. I'm inclined to agree as they are probably our best remedy for now.

Sent from my iPhoneIn San Juan

Also, Sandals Sucks Part Two!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Island Bound

So we're packing up and gathering a wealth of entertainment so that we don't go on insane on the long flight to Antigua. This is the follow up to the Honeymoonicane from last year, so we're getting a pretty cheap trip out of the deal.

A bit of housekeeping before I head out:

Apple drops the NDA. Thank god. This was far too wide of a net to protect some of their software patents which was becoming more and more of a detriment to development in general as more developers jumped into the pool.

Nintendo DSi. Sounds good. Might be tempted to pick one up, I never did get a Lite and the one drawback from the model, the lack of a GBA port, isn't an issue since I still have the original DS. On the flipside - I have an iPhone and the camera, web browser and music player simply aren't a draw. The new memory and downloadable content, though, could be a big one.

Hopefully I'll be able to talk a bit more about Dead Space when I get back. I have some questions about No Known Survivors's creation. If you haven't checked it out yet, check it out. There's apparently a $5 coupon at the EA Store for you when you register - and also the grand prize winner is due the Ultra Limited Edition of the game and now a replica of Issac Clarke’s Helmet as well.

The VP debate just ended. A lot of the talking heads are scoring points for Palin. Fine, she didn't make an ass out of herself, but she's still a religious fanatic who couldn't bring herself to admit that global warming isn't man made.

So I'm out for about seven days. I'll have very little access to nearly any kind of modern communcation.

But there will be plenty of snorkeling.

Game Play: Pure

I got a chance to sit down with Pure for a while, toss together an ATV rig and jump into a few races. Pure aims to bring trick ATV racing to the console and the bottom line is that the game hits all the cylinders quite well.

I want to compare it to WipEout HD, which I downloaded and also briefly got a chance to toy with - but that doesn't seem fair. WipEout is trance music, whereas Pure is grunge rock. Pure holds its own by doing something I really hope more racing games try - push the genre by changing the mechanics somewhat. Pure's trick setup isn't just a cosmetic change, but the way you can gather enough boost to nitro your way past your opponents. The tricks need to be properly timed and considered as you come over that hill and "pump the jump" to gather more air - otherwise it's easy to get too tricky and end up flying off your ride.

Graphically the game is pretty dreamy as well. The tracks are full of debris, buildings, backgrounds, the occasional helicopter - with visual cues to look out for alternate routes and hills as well. Frame rates were smooth and the sense of speed was well stocked.

I don't have much to critique on the game. I'm not entirely crazy about the rig garage ... it might almost be too detailed for what seems like just another ATV when you're done - but that feels like a squabble and I'd rather have the garage in it's current state than many other alternatives.

Solid recommendation.