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Saturday, April 26, 2008

TV Watch: Lost, The Shape Of Things To Come

This season does still manage to impress me. This was a well plotted, tense and interesting episode - starting off with showing many of us that we shouldn't have assumed Ben had actually laid a trap for CFL and company, but rather that it's Widmore's men who take them.

And Alex's death seems to be a watershed moment for the show. Somehow, whatever game of lists Ben and Widmore are playing, Alex wasn't supposed to be on that particular one. This even helps explain Ben's tactic in dealing with her capture. He didn't think that the men would be allowed, in one way or another, to actually kill her. When they do, it would seem that he takes a war footing rather seriously.

Even the characters seem to have behaved more realistically here - with Locke bugging Ben about the monster and Jack pushing for answers about the boat. And ho were the scenes with the monster worth the price of admission. The real question is whether Ben just had to release the hounds or if it's more complicated. Would he not normally have killed them or had the "rules" changed so it was OK for him?

And why exactly can't he kill Widmore? Or apparently the other way around.

There's some buzz that the DHARMA parka Ben had on in the Sahara is related to a new base that allows space/time travel. The logo is new and, well, let's face it - it's a bit that it's a parka. Maybe the base is a bit of a hike from the island. Considering that I think there was a polar bear carcass in the desert a few episodes back, makes you wonder quite where the door in the wardrobe might reside.

And anyone else think it odd that Widmore can't find the island anymore? That thing must really get around.

More iPhone Development

Sorry it's been a few days - things have been insane in general. I've been completely jammed at work and out nearly every night this week for one reason or another. Exhaustion would be settling in if I didn't have bizarre compile errors to distract me.

First, the good news - the latest iPhone SDK and OS beta update includes a few interesting goodies, like OpenGL on the simulator and enhanced lookahead in XCode. The iTunes app has reappeared and there's more indications that the AppStore is getting ready.

In order to see all of this, I did end up bricking my phone for all of Thursday morning as apparently there's a bug with restoring your iPhone if you have weird things like another USB device plugged in ... go figure. After much, much panic - I managed to get it working again. Friday morning seemed to be make up for all this as I started getting my SOAP requests bringing back SOAP responses. I even went so far as to brag on this fact ... until I tried to compile for the actual device instead of the simulator. Then everything with XML in its name died a miserable death.

It seems the NSXML stuff hasn't been moved over yet. There's an ounce of common wisdom out there that its "too slow for the phone" - which I find fairly hard to believe after watching, you know, a Monkey Ball demo on the thing. I don't care how slow it is - it can't be more processor intensive than rendering a 3D world.

No, I'm guessing there's something more esoteric at hand. The working XML example off the Apple demos uses a kind of SAX design to pull items into an object. I'm hoping it will be an alternative, but it accomplishes less in three full classes over about twenty lines of code. With the NSXML, you've got XPATH and other handy tools. Some comments in the code make me thing the NSXML absence is a bug - but with our deadline I probably won't be able to assume it will be fixed.

The game I'm doing as a side project is working pretty well. I'm moving into the realm of interfaces with it now, something I'm hoping to keep as minimal as possible.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

DVD Watch: Superman: Doomsday

Just a quick note on this as I was something of a minor fan of the recent Justice League cartoons - this movie is just honestly not very good. The animation is what you would expect, and the voice acting is generally abov par - but the story and the dialogue is just unbearable. It's based on the death of Superman from the normal DCverse, but naturally truncated and slightly pureed. It plays way too much on the already quite ridiculous concept of Superman's alter ego (Lois apparently shagging the guy but still not quite being able to recognize him without his glasses. Just allow your head to explode, it will be simpler). It occasionally bounces into the painfully obvious (Lex creating a cure of MD to cash in while Superman at the exact same moment is trying to cure cancer) and then just rolls into camp (that spaceship! it might be alien!).

Avoid it. There's better animation out there.

GTA Ads On CTA Bus Stops

I can't tell you if this means the ads won't be pulled from bus stops, if they simply haven't been pulled from bus stops yet or if the CTA never even pulled them from buses because they realized the best way to get Fox News to STFU is to simply call them, tell them what they want to hear, and not actually do anything since it's not like Fox News has the journalistic integrity to double check the facts anyway.

The CTA Versus GTA - Chicago Taxpayers Lose

Wow, a story involving junk journalism, Chicago, games and controversy? I'm in.

GamePolitics gives the rundown on the CTA banning GTA IV ads off their buses. Apparently city policy is now being dictated by Fox News as they have determined the ads for the game to be unfit for public consumption after Fox rather loosely tries to link the ads to a rather violent weekend here in the city.

And by loosely - allow me be to be specific. I mean not at all. Not once during the news broadcast does Fox news offer a single fact or heck, even a hastily thrown together statistic, to link the ads to any actual negative activity in the city. Fox offers no proof whatsoever that the ads have any effect at all.

Instead, they bitch and moan a lot about how much possible revenue the CTA might be making off these games. Which is kind of an odd thing to get up in the CTA's grill for considering they've spent the last eighteen months begging the state for cash.

So in other words, Fox News and the CTA would rather raise your property taxes than have your kids see a couple people portrayed in cartoon form in a lineup.

About the only "evidence" Fox offers, other than a few oddly edited man on the street interviews, is Blagojevich talking at some length about what he thinks of video games. Of course, the real punchline to this whole thing, is that Fox naturally leaves out the fact that our dear governor cost us a million and a half in legal fees fighting his fight - only to lose to a small thing called the Constitution of the United States in the end. His fight cost the people of Illinois funds from public health, welfare and economic development.

There's no morality here. The CTA, CTA riders and the taxpayers of Chicago have lost out here again. And if people like Fox and Blagojevich were to have their way, we would continue to lose a lot more in a frivolous and meaningless battle.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

For Sunday: Darth Vader's Voice

Funny and somewhat interesting all at the same time...