Saturday, June 30, 2007

Music industry hates free CDs

The decision by the whining music industry to threaten Prince because of his decision to give away copies of his new album Planet Earth beggars belief. This, and their attempt to shut down CD Wow just proves that they hate consumers and their main objective as always is about ripping consumers off to enhance the salary of their executives.

Never mind that the album is being given away with the crap that is the Mail on Sunday (just bin the paper when you get the CD), Prince is just brilliant for stirring up the industry the way he did. The real money is made through gigs and tours, not overpriced albums, where the majority of the profit goes to fat cats (who probably sits all day dreaming of making more money and who else to screw over). If Prince can make a couple of fans happy then I say go for it. I for one applaud him for it.

via BBC News

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wii's Virtual Console is a rip-off

I hate to be so blunt but, Nintendo, your pricing model for downloadable games on Virtual Console sucks.

£3.50 for a single NES game? £5.60 for SNES? £7 for N64? Is that because if the fact that we live in Eurozone that it is okay to make us pay 50% more than that of American Wii owners? I wouldn't mind paying more for a single Neo Geo ROM (MVS carts are uber expensive), but £7 for a 16MB inferior PAL N64 ROM? On top of that we need to buy either a GCN or Wii classic controller to play SNES and N64 games!

For once I say take a leaf out of Sony's pricing model. Seven quid can get you the PSN download for two PlayStation classics Wipeout and Crash Bandicoot. What's that? £3.50 for 400MB Crash Bandicoot goodness! Bargain. Then there is the ability to play downloaded PS1 games on both PS3 and PSP. Virtual Console games however are tied to the Wii.

Music Review: Marilyn Manson - Eat Me, Drink Me

Gosh, has it been more than ten years already since I first walked into a music store in Malaysia and walked out with Marilyn Manson's epic Antichrist Superstar? Time sure flies. I've finally obtained a copy of Eat Me, Drink Me a few days ago and have been listening to it for a few hours now - much to the annoyance of fellow Tube commuters.

I am enjoying the new direction that the band is taking, though I am not quite sure if it would ever top the Trent Reznor produced album. That was a classic album, much like Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse, Carcass's Necroticism or Metallica's Master of Puppets. These just can't be topped in their respective genres (okay, NiN's Pretty Hate Machine would).

If you think you would be getting an Industrial album think again. The days of head banging, at least to Marilyn Manson, is long over since the shocking u-turn that was Mechanical Animals. Which is fitting because I have since grown up and musically Eat Me, Drink Me is the most mature album yet to be released by the band. Musically depressing the lyrics mainly centres around love (Manson himself calls this a 'romantic' album), quite the opposite to the hate filled contents of Antichrist Superstar.

Look out for a future review here. But an early verdict before that. You may hate it at first (a similar reaction I had was with The Killer's Sam's Town), but after 3 to 4 sittings you will find it to be very Manson-like. There are a couple of Industrial touches but nothing too special. You will find more Joe Satriani here than say Rammstein. So if you are expecting your Neue Deutsche Harte or pure Melodic Industrial you better look elsewhere.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rare Shadow of the Colossus *new* for under a tenner

Spotted at GAME this afternoon, I thought I would like to share with you the current "deal of the year" (my words, not theirs) promotion the chain is having. Remember this is for a new (not used) Shadow of the Colossus UK copy - which means in awesome digipak format. Go buy it (non-affiliate) now.

Other bargains according to BGB includes both Okami and God Hand for £15 each at HMV.

It is disturbing when a rare and awesome game like Shadow of the Colossus, Okami and God Hand gets marked down by that much. It does say more about the gaming habits of this nation than anything else. Oh well, at least more gamers will now hopefully get to play Fumito Ueda's masterpiece.

Go hunt down ICO too while you are at it.

NTSC gamers can order SOTC greatest hits for a reasonable £12.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hot Soul Calibur 4 screens

Some of you may know that Soul Calibur on Dreamcast is my favourite 3D fighting game ever and that Ivy is one of my favourite female video game characters. I was really looking forward to details on Namco's next-gen Soul Calibur 4 game (PS3, 360) when the first screens started appearing yesterday:

Wow. I have mixed feelings about this. While the male in me is happy to see Ivy, in a more, uhm, revealing position (why do you think she is my favourite character to play with in SC?), I pray not that Namco, in desperation for sales, would turn to Itagaki for gravity defying physics model. Don't get me wrong, Dead or Alive 2 (also on Dreamcast) is my second favourite 3D fighting game of all time, and even previous Soul Calibur games has featured plenty of chest augmentation, but I do hope they prioritised the gameplay first! Then it won't matter if Namco turns Ivy into a Mai Shiranui equivalent.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nintendo of Europe customer service

This is a true story when a friend of mine called Nintendo Europe to help unlock the system. It went something like this:

NoE: Nintendo customer service, how may I help?
Caller: I need the master code to unlock the parental control.
NoE: May I ask why do you need a master code for?
Caller: Well, it is a second hand Wii...
NoE: I am sorry. You mentioned that it is second hand. I can't help you.
Caller: Why not? I have the serial number and confirmation code. It isn't stolen.
NoE: But you mentioned that it is used and there is nothing we can do. If you did not mention that it was used I could have given you the master code.
Caller: So if I call back and pretend that it isn't used, you will give me the master code?
NoE: Yes.
Caller: So why don't you pretend that we didn't have this conversation rather than wasting both of our time?
NoE: Because I've already heard it.
Caller: But...
NoE: If you call again and mention that you lost your pin then we will give you the master code.
Caller: Fine!

One minutes later

NoE: Nintendo customer service, how may I help?
Caller: Hello, I need the master code to unlock the parental control as I have forgotten my pin number. I have the confirmation code right here.
NoE: That is not a problem...

Look out for this Mii


Hopefully soon.

* actual Mii contains slightly less fat than this prototype (thanks to Wii Sports)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Shunning social networking sites

Another reason why I stay clear from these so-called "social" networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. I do not understand why people need to barricade themselves within class factions. It is fairly obvious. I have friends who are pretty middle class and educational and consider themselves the Ipod generation - they all go to Facebook. My other mates who aren't from a middle class background, who are into music for what it is (not for the gadget) and has a pretty fun life would go to MySpace. Then there are the rest who goes somewhere else because they want to be unique (0r pretend to be), until it becomes the next big thing, then they migrate somewhere else complaining about the influx of MySpace/Facebook/whatever people.

I tended to be a massive anti-MySpace guy myself, but recently Facebook has recently joined the top list of an ever growing list of websites to avoid (mainly due to the many hate sites available there - guess being educational doesn't mean you are civilised), which includes such atrocities like Digg and other shenanigans (still including MySpace, don't worry - though I gather that many indie folks still hang there to talk about music than about themselves).

My advice? Send those invite e-mails straight into the thrash bin. You have no idea what kind of shit you will be letting yourself into by signing up with these Web 2.0 sites. Sigh, I wish for a simpler times when all I needed was IRC and people were friendly and G$$gle hasn't morphed into a 90s monopolistic Micro$oft.

Viewing American class divisions through MySpace and Facebook

Friday, June 22, 2007


An hour of Wii Sports (boxing) is tougher than cycling the bloody South Downs Way. Respect to people who goes for boxercise.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Malaysian music

Was chatting someone today and she brought up the subject of Malaysian music. Then it hit me, damn, I used to be a fan of mid 1990s Malaysian music scenes, and I miss it. Bands like KRU, Wings and Search and people like Ella, Sheila Majid, Ning Baizura, Erra Fazira, Ziana Zain and the beautiful Fauziah Latiff (ah, I had a penchant for Malay female artists back then). Those were the days before I discovered Death Metal.

Anyway when I signed off went straight to YouTube and watched a couple of illegally uploaded videos. I think I spent hours just watching and reminiscing about those time when I spend more time listening to music and reading Malaysian magazines like Gelihati and Gila Gila and Japanese mangas. Sigh, better try to find those cassettes that I spent a huge fortune on!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The year is 2007, but somehow it feels like 1973. Why? Because the BBFC has rejected to classify Manhunt 2, effectively making it illegal to sell the PS2 and Wii ported game in this country. This would be the first video game to be banned since Carmageddon (Later overturned. Remember that game? It was awesome). I did not like the first Manhunt, so this isn't a huge loss to me. Though it scares me to think that Suda 51's No More Heroes might get banned because apparently it contain more violent content than Manhunt 2.

The reason I didn't like the first game was the gameplay, and not the violent content (although the sadistic content is pretty nauseating) itself, so I think for a game like Manhunt 2 to be banned based on the content is irrational thinking - something akin to book burning days of yore. Which is shocking because I tend to respect the BBFC's more liberal approach (I still do, the BBFC are one of the few organisations who actually play the games rather than view a video of it) when it comes to classifying games compared to other countries, like Germany's USK - where knee jerk reaction by idiot politicians can have affect the process.

This wouldn't be the first time that video games are to be used as scapegoats. "Ban this sick filth" is already a common hysterical theme among right wing tabloids like the Daily Mail. The first Manhunt game didn't escape criticism either when some shops removed it from the shelves due to tabloid hysteria. Then there was the Rule of Rose scandal, a game that none of the MPs played, but still wanting to create a teacup storm over nothing. This and the mad demands by the Church of England over Resistance: Fall of Man is making me sick.

If you want to ban something, ban something which is rubbish, like Dan Brown's new book or the new Fantastic Four. Oh well, the game is probably rubbish anyway, like most of Rockstar's post GTA III games. But still...

via Eurogamer

Monday, June 18, 2007

Apple lies again

Apple Iphone Vs competitors, according to Apple PR, and as accepted by delusional Apple fanboys:

Apple Iphone Vs Nokia N95, according to facts (updated 26 July 2007):

Apple Iphone Nokia N95
Wi-Fi Yes Yes
GPS No Yes
UMTS (3G) No Yes
Camera 2Mp, no autofocus
5Mp Carl Zeiss optics with autofocus
3rd Party Apps Web applets Native, Java, Flash, web widgets
Weight 135g 120g
Flash 4GB/8GB 160MB
Expandable Memory No 1-8GB microSDHC
Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, no OBEX
2.0 EDR with OBEX
Radio No Yes
A2DP No Yes
Video Call No Yes
Replaceable Battery No* Yes, Nokia BL-5F
MMS No Yes
Ringtones No** Yes
Video Recording No Yes
Voice Dialling No Yes
Keypad No Yes
Fingerprints on your screen Yes No
OS OS X !!700MB!!*** Series 60v3 9.1

* You are required to send off your phone to Apple to have the battery replaced, for a fee! Kinda like your car.
** It is possible that you may have to rebuy your music from Itunes to use as ringtones, giving Steve Jobs more booty.
*** For a 700MB OS Apple sure does skim on features. What are those 700MB for? Easter eggs of Steve Jobs for Apple apologists to hunt for?

Software Impressions: Agnitum Outpost Firewall Pro

Today I uninstalled ZoneAlarm Pro on my notebook and installed the trial version of Agnitum Outpost Firewall Pro as recommended by Timur, who may or may not be a shrill for Agnitum. Before I did that I read a couple of reviews on the firewall first and found that generally most people found it to be a robust firewall and to be as good as ZoneAlarm Pro. I didn't download the Security Suite as apparently their anti-firewall and anti-malware kit is a bit pants. My PC is also installed with both AVG and Avast's free antivirus kit, Spybot's Search and Destroy spyware detector and Lavasoft's AdAware so I feel pretty confident on recklessly surfing the web.

So far I am very impressed. A couple of things, the GUI lacks the intuitiveness of ZoneAlarm or Norton Internet Security. It isn't something you want to install on your grandmother's spanking new notebook for example, as everything on it seems baffling to a newb (although actually the learning curve is almost minimal, but the UI can seem 'scary' at first). You can tell that Agnitum created an application that first and foremost aims to inform the user best in security issues rather than burying them deep under pretty UI. Outpost Firewall Pro also allows the creation of new configuration files based on your security preferences, which I like. Rules can also be created based on predefined presets - perfect for newbs who does not understand the rules of disallowing dishonest applications from phoning home.

Next I tested the firewall's robustness through a couple of online firewall tests. It passed McAfee's simple port scan test as well as PC Flank's advance TCP SYN random port scan test. Finally I went to Steve Gibson's Shields Up! website which announced that my system achieved a perfect "TruStealth" rating through probing the first 1056 ports. A couple of leak test confirmed that this firewall application is simply invisible. Colour me impressed!

Outpost Firewall Pro so far has been a very impressive application though it is still a pretty bloated software (14MB download similar to ZoneAlarm Pro). And as far as advance configurations go, as long as you practice common sense and sit behind a firewall router you probably do not need a pro version software firewall. As I sometimes leech over neighbour's wireless broadband connection or use the free unsecured one down the pub, a software firewall is a must. If you constantly sit behind a router you can probably make do with the excellent and free Comodo Firewall Pro. But if you require something more advance you can't go wrong with either Outpost Firewall Pro or ZoneAlarm Pro.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Vista firewall

I have been experimenting with software firewalls for Windows Vista recently. It isn't for me (as you may know from previous posts I am still resisting Vista, at least until SP1 is released). My favourite software firewall on my XP SP2 machine is of course ZoneAlarm Pro, but it isn't Vista compatible as yet. Some has recommended Sygate, but as it now belongs to Symantec and I have no intention of going back to using Norton bloat ware after years of battling with their Internet Security Suite, I guess that rules it out.

There is a free firewall for Vista called PC Tools Firewall Plus and it is pretty handy, but the interface is less robust when compared to ZoneAlarm, but I guess this is a personal preference. I have also tried the free and acclaimed Comodo firewall on XP when I had problems with ZoneAlarm and ActiveSync. I loved it but I had to uninstall it in place for ZoneAlarm Pro (I found the solution to the ActiveSync issue) due to Comodo being accused of bundling their other free products with 'spyware' - although I have seen no evidence that it effects their firewall product (but still...). The Vista version is currently in Alpha stage, but if you require a more robust XP firewall than the free ZoneAlarm give Comodo firewall a try. But back to Vista.

Check Point recently released a Vista compatible ZoneAlarm (7.1). Right now their website has yet to be updated with the new software (download links still points to 7.0 Vista-incompatible packages), so you will have to dig around to actually download it. It works well on Vista (not mine, again I have to stress) and despite the fact that it loses OS-level firewall protection, I guess you can take comport that you are better protected than the basic built-in Vista firewall, at least against most malwares.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Nintendo of Europe's new privacy policy: not happy...

... but what can you do?

Nintendo of Europe's new private policy has been rolling out throughout Europe over the past two weeks and today GB residents logging in to NoE's website will be greeted with a new privacy policy announcement.

Part of the changes include new expiration dates on VIP star points, which I am annoyed with because so far NoE has been pretty crap when it comes to offering goodies for its members to exchange points with - especially when compared to the excellent service provided by Club Nintendo (Japan).

You could convert Star points to Wii points, but so far no 'exchange rate' has been released and even if they do offer a good exchange rate, I am not planning on purchasing any virtual console games on the Wii console (well, I don't have the console, but if I do, I won't), unless there are original games (ala PSN and XBLA). Come on NoE, stop mucking about and reward your customer by bringing that Nintendo Hanafudas over here! Or we will just import more.

And what is it with that Super Paper Mario banner on the top? The game is not even out here. In fact there has been zero release date announced for PAL regions yet.

Not everyone wants party and mini-games.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tagged, again!

I have been tagged, again.

I swear I thought I did something similar. Oh what the hell.

On my recently tidied desk:

Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother
A USB cable
Sony VAIO Mouse
Logitech keyboard
ThinkPad Battery
O2 Mobile phone
2.5" 40GB Harddrive
Sony RM-609 TV remote control
Today's Guardian paper
Samsung earphone
Kettle Chips
A The Battle of Algiers DVD
£2 coin
Sainbury's premium corned beef still in can (I have no idea how this got here, I am bringing it down to the kitchen now)

Anyone who hasn't done this can consider themselves tagged.


This is my 'desk' area while at Jenni's place:

Desk is a small foldable dining table, enough for two at most, but perfect of internet shenanigans. I always remove my notebook battery when there is a mains nearby (we don't usually get power cuts often). The book is Danny King's The Burglar Diaries. Wallpaper is Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More Church of England rant

I see that the Church of Henry VIII is seeking its old habit again of attempting to extend its influence over places it does not belong. The Anglican church today pleaded with the Japanese people to join with them in their fight against Sony. They argued that any religious building such as a mosque should not be included in games of violent content, which I find amusing as many US war games contains maps of mosques where we can blow people up inside. I never heard the church coming to their defence before.

The media as usual has been up to its usual sleeve, reporting the church's propaganda by referring to the game where 'hundreds of people' are killed in the church, which as far as I know (speaking to other gamers online, is bull). As much as I dislike Sony's PlayStation department nowadays (SCEI), as a gamer I have to side with Sony (and other games developers who seek artistic freedom). Did Westminster Abbey sue Dan Brown when he wrote that superbly average blockbuster known as Da Vinci Code? No. BTW, You can read my original opinion here which has not change.

If they are so concern about gun crime, perhaps it is time for the dying institution to look at themselves as community and what they can do to fix it, rather than shifting blame to a company thousands of miles away.

via Yahoo! News

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sustainable computers

Remember Energy Star? I use to see them on all sorts of computer products, especially on the system BIOS. Perhaps it is because it is a US based program, but today I encounter a single Energy Star sticker on my mobo or CPU box or logo on a BIOS screen. Never mind about that now. Today, 40 companies and organisations including Intel, IBM, Dell, AMD, Microsoft, HP, Sun, MIT, WWF, etc. and bizarrely Starbucks, announced an initiative to tackle energy wastage due to the inefficient nature of our computers.

Called the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, the aim of the group is to promote the creation of products that meets or surpass the Environmental Protection Agency's own Energy Star strict guidelines on efficiency, with a goal of reaching 90% efficiency and reduce power consumption by 50% by 2010. The initial goal is to follow the guidelines laid out by Energy Star and aims to introduce stricter guidelines in 2009.

The biggest culprit are of course ACs and PSUs. Everytime I accidentally brush my bare feet against a laptop's AC it would be burning hot indicating just how much energy is actually lost. Desktop's PSU are even worse with requirements to purchase 600W PSU just to run newer inefficient graphic cards. ATi and nVidia needs to follow the footsteps of Intel in producing processors which gives more bang per wattage rather than just pumping more transistors into GPU cores and slapping a huge heat sink on it. Apparently 50% of power from the wall socket is never utilised and is thus wasted.

I hope these companies aren't just doing this for purely as a PR exercise. Like many others I would pay more if the products are more energy efficient and are labelled in a way that would not confuse consumers. Perhaps a sticker like the one on the right would soon make its way onto our PCs. Make it happen.

And please no more junk mails. I have collected my fair share of environmentally unfriendly AOL CDs.

via Ars & PCWorld

Monday, June 11, 2007

Software Impressions: Safari 3 for Windows Beta

Readers of this blog will know how much I dislike Apple, but I was wiling to give it a go today when Steve Jobs announced the availability of the Safari browser for Windows XP and Vista platform. Personally I hate Safari 1.x on its native Mac OS platform. I know of no-one, not even die hard MacBots, who like Safari. It is the worst mainstream browser in existence.

But Steve Jobs reality distortion field does work wonder. A lofty claim of '2x' faster than other browsers would surely catch your eyes. So I did a sinful thing and visited Apple's website to download Safari. The default download actually contained a QuickTime installer, but fortunately I caught that and switched to a QuickTime-less download. Seriously why people bother with QuickTime, the worst media player ever created next to RealPlayer is beyond me (go download VideoLan Macboys). Five minutes later I was surfing. And I hated the experience.

The good stuff first. Safari's renderer works well on most websites I visited including YouTube. That's it. It apparently passed the Acidtest so rendering should not be a problem. Now the bad stuff. The font-smoothing engine passed over from OS X lacked clarity. The cleartype technology displayed is the worst I have seen and it makes pages unreadable. I got a migraine just for looking at the ugly anti-aliased fonts as displayed through Safari. You can change the font smoothing to 'light' under 'preferences', but it is still ugly as hell. It would be great if I could turn it off and use the native cleartype technology, but I guess this is a covert operation from Apple to make PC users hate Windows.

Then there is the GUI which is based on Apple's own Mac OS X, which is an eyesore. It may work well on a Mac OS X machine, but it looks oddly out of place on a Windows environment, especially with that god ugly Aqua theme. It would ignore any skinning request from my Styler program or WindowBlinds (for times when I need reminiscing of BeOS). And it would also ignore my Windows preference of not doing window animations visual effects! Plus it wouldn't scroll when I tried my mouse scroll button.

As far as speed goes it is sometimes slow and sometimes fast, so nothing too special there. But Firefox 2 seems to be much faster. Maybe that is because I optimised it through about:config to speed up the renderer and other stuff, or maybe Steve Jobs is lying. Who knows? It wouldn't be the first time. But right now Safari is sitting as a niche product on my PC as a 'backup' browser in case Firefox, then Opera and finally IE7 fails to render a page properly (eBay UK is a known offender). It is probably useful in the future if I decide to change the layout of this blog to see if Mac OS X/Safari users can enjoy more Apple related rants.

Here is a quick comparison of the memory footprint of each program when opening a single tab loaded with BBC News frontpage:

Safari 3.0 (522.11.3) - 57MB
Opera 9.20 - 17MB
Firefox with tons of extensions- 70MB
Internet Explorer 7.0.5730.11 - 41MB

Here are a couple of comparison screenshots between the various browsers rendering BBC News and this website:

Firefox 2

Internet Explorer 7

Opera 9

Safari 3 Beta

21st century taboos


1. Giving money to beggars
Done that, but before the 21st century. I may throw a 20p coin to a busker or buy a Big Issue from a Big Issue guy. Personally I find charity chuggers more annoying than beggars.

2. Speaking to a stranger on a bus or a train
Apart from exceptional circumstances such as Tube Relief, I have never spoken to anyone on a bus or train. It is the London rule. But outside London I would speak to anyone with a smile on the bus or train. Especially OAPs. They are funny.

3. Holding the door open for a woman
50% of the time I hold the door open for someone, woman or male, unless I hate their appearance, then I would close the door. And run off.

4. Saying that 'Imagine' by John Lennon is rubbish
I think John Lennon and the Beatles are rubbish. As are Paul McCartney, Bono and Bob Geldof. There I said it. David Bowie owns all.

5. Complimenting a friend/relative on their children
I have no idea why this list is even on MSN. Saying a tot is cute is nothing remarkable, me thinks. Perhaps the paedo scare of late is the reason for this taboo.

6. Owning up to drinking full-fat milk
Nothing wrong with that. I never own up to it because people never ask me. This isn't taboo, it is just irrelevant to discuss.

7. Asking for a cup of tea in an upmarket cafe
What is an upmarket cafe? Starbucks, Costa etc. are hardly considered upmarket. But I do know people who goes to Browns and they order tea (no, I have never been there).

8. Being irreverent about Princess Diana
I do not know her. No one from her estate gave me money. Why should I care?

9. Arguing that taxes are good
Taxes are good, to a certain degree. Then you should only tax the rich. Only rich people would argue that taxes are bad.

10. Contesting that England has a third-rate football team
Couldn't care less. But yes, England as a team is third-rate.

What a rubbish list. MSN UK must do better next time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mythical fairytale god hates games...

But Londoners definitely loves portable video games.

On National Express coach:
- One adult male with black DS Lite
- One adult male with black PSP (SEGA Mega Drive Collection)

On Tube (in my 45 minutes worth of journey today)
- One adult male with black DS Lite
- One adult male with white DS Lite
- One adult female with white DS Lite
- One adult male with enamel navy DS Lite
- One adult male with white PSP
- Zero Blackberries!

It was great to finally see more adults willing to whip out their DS Lite consoles to play in public. Yay London!

In other news an old insignificant relic known as the Church of England is threatening legal action against Sony Computer Entertainment over Insomniac's PS3 game Resistance: Fall of Man. This was because of the inclusion of a Manchester cathedral in the game where men had to battle aliens (sounds pretty cool, maybe I will get a PS3 after all - make that 50% price drop happen SCEE!).

The Beeb has even created four separate articles on this subject (that is an average of TWO a day, for a none-news! Must be a slow news day yesterday), even giving it top bill BBC News website for much of Saturday. I guess they are not interested in 'Maddy' now (thank you German reporter).

Spiffy. Too bad you can't WASD+mouse'd the game.

Now I don't know about you (and my law knowledge is at best consigned to consumer law) but last I heard you can't 'renew' the copyright of old buildings, especially old relics like cathedrals and such (which at 800 years old, probably/should be in the public domain anyway). Now, any lawsuit based on copyrights would likely be thrown out by a sensible judge, so me thinks the CoE is doing this as part of their 'morale crusade' on video games (you don't see churches complaining when films or books use them in fiction) or probably for some kind of money related intent.

I mean they are asking Sony to 'donate' a 'substantial' amount of profit from the game to their coffers (What? Weekly church driven donations isn't enough?). That and a bunch of old irrelevant codgers trying to pin the blame someone else other than themselves because no one here goes to church any more, apart from coffin dodgers. I really can't understand the CoE's logic on how is it Sony's fault that Manchester is riddled with gun crimes. Damn, it really is about money and shifting blames...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

ThinkPad Reserve

Looks spiffy, like an exquisite Vaja case. Me wants! Can't wait to see the product as a whole, even if I can't afford one! Only eight days to go.

(Too bad it won't be Yoga)


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl mini-review

On surface the latest fourth generation Pokémon proper is similar to the original Pokémon Red/Blue/Green from the Game Boy era. While the graphics has been slightly upgraded, exploration is still based on the top-down camera viewpoint, which is nice. On something as small as the DS screen it would be crazy to force a different viewpoint. The SNES graphics worked for MOTHER3 and it will certainly continue working the new Pokémon, in this case Diamond/Pearl.

The visuals while predominately 2D contains 3D environments, bring to life the beautiful region of Sinnoh. Buildings are polygonal as are the windmills (wonderfully animated I might add). The sound department has received similar upgrades with the new soundtrack complementing exploration while the harshness of the decade old Game Boy limitation remaining, as evident by Pokémon screeches during combat.

The plot isn't important (just replace Team Rocket with Team Galactic... and that's it really!) here as it should be. Compared to other RPGs the storyline is sparse, but that has always been a case with this franchise. What is important is the gameplay and the 107 new Pokémon (of 493 unique critters) you will be hunting until the end of time (okay, until the next proper Pokémon comes out). You can also transfer old Pokémons from your GBA games via slot 2. New to Diamond/Pearl is the ability to connect via WiFi to any other Pokémon gamers around the world to trade and battle other Pokémon creatures. VoIP can also be used to chat with other players provided they are on your friend list.

Like Pokémon Gold/Silver (and Animal Crossing: Wild World, Boktai etc.) the region of Sinnoh is tied to the DS real-time clock. This is important if you want to catch elusive Pokémons such as those who only appears during certain times of the day. It is a great feature and I wish more games would integrate some kind of real world clock into games. There are also weather effects (similar to Final Fantasy XII) that affects exploration. Snow for example will slow you down and fogs can affect visibility. Little touches like this makes exploration even more memorable.

Because this is a RPG, combats are very old school turn based. While stylus support has been added to aid battles I still prefer the old school way of using the face button. It is just much more intuitive and faster. Thankfully Game Freak did not shoe horn any mandatory stylus usage (that I know of).

While some would yell 'ROFL teh kiddeh LOL DS SuXx0r!!', only insecure close-minded gamers would dismiss this. The new Pokémon remains as addictive as any other proper Pokémon classics before it. Give it a go.

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl version will be released in Europe on the 27th July 2007. But if you do not mind potentially losing DS-Wii connectivity (due to Nintendo's DRM region coding) then go ahead and import it. The Wii version is bound to suck (as other Pokémon side-quest games tend to) so you shouldn't lose any sleep regarding it. Plus you save money too.


Buy this from Play-Asia or Amazon UK today

Monday, June 4, 2007

New farcical London 2012 logo revealed: Lisa Simpson giving head

Verdict: Utter rubbish, dross, ghastly, bland, crap, garish, hideous, ugly, train wreck, disaster, woeful, cack, dated, tacky, vile, embarrassing or whatever insults you can think of. This does not appeal to young, old, left wing, right wing, hip or whatever excuse Seb Coe can think of. It only appeals to 'trendy' people who has a taste for bad designs. BTW please take a look at their recently relaunched website. Must be some kind of Web 2.0 joke.

This new logo, or 'brand' as Lord Coe puts it, is the perfect example of a couple of old people reminiscing about the 80s trying to be 'in touch' and 'getting it in' with the 'innit' culture by being 'edgy' and failing miserably. If you want graffiti art get a real and proper graffiti artist like Banksy. Even if you think the disjointed mess is fine take a look at the other stuff they got wrong. The typography for example is just blend and unprofessional. The Olympic logo is missing its recognisable colours.

ITV News this evening showed this to a bunch of kids and the first kid said "it's rubbish", so it doesn't seem to be appealing to young urban edgy kids as Seb seems to think it will. It even gave me migraine. I had to read a news article to find out that the logo was 2012. And to think they spent £400,000 on this. If this was Eurovison this would be another nul point. Oh, I can't wait for them to reveal their mascots. Lisa and Bart Simpson perhaps?

This logo does not represent London.

Kinda wish that Paris won the games right now. At least their logo was good and use the 'S' and '2' to great effect. Even the old London logo was good enough, especially with its recognisable Thames ribbon flow.

Ken Livingstone's LONDON would be a much better alternative.