The Wii

12 December 2006

You know, when I bought my PSP I was expecting so much from the launch games. I was really let down when I played Lumines and Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix. Both struck me as mediocre and "artificially filled" with content.

I'm not sure if you know what I mean by that, but I'll try and explain. In Tony Hawk's there's "story" mode and "classic" mode. Both use the same levels but just have different objectives. Neither is particularly smooth or entertaining.

Reviewers said "it'll seem like the same old thing if you've already played Tony Hawk's Underground 2". Well, no, it'll seem repetitive if you've played ANY Tony Hawk game. I've played 1, 2, 3 and 4.

I absolutely adored 3. I played it, played it and played it some more. I fucking love that game.
Tony Hawk's 1 was too bare, 2 was getting there but still lacked finesse, but 3, wow.
4 seemed to forget its roots though and I never even tried to finish it.

Skip to "Underground 2 Remix" and I was just unhappy. Shame it's not worth selling or trading in!
Multiplayer would be excellent, if it wasn't for the fact that no one else owns a PSP, let alone this mediocre game!

Lumines got rave reviews, they loved it!
I still don't get it though. It's tetris with prettier graphics and music. That's it.

Tetris was fun, back in the day. Back in the day as in when it was bundled with the Gameboy! (Original!)

So, mediocre titles didn't exactly inspire me. But I held out hope, I even created a very popular magazine for the console. I even bought a second one! But clearly, that wasn't enough for Sony. They just fudged things up again and again, just as they are doing with their PS3, the arrogant pricks.

The DS is an amazing platform, but it's not my thing. The PSP, wow I thought, now THAT will be something.
Shame the developers didn't share this view. All we got was shovelware crap. The occasional fun title, but little else. I loved Me & My Katamari though..

Anyway, cut to present day Edinburgh.
Shot pans into the centre of the city, through the window of a young Napier student.
He and his flatmate are enjoying a game of WiiSports bowling.
Before that they were playing Red Steel.

Can you believe it? Of all my launch purchases, I don't regret any of them! (Wiiplay isn't great, but it was effectively only a fiver, so who cares?)
I've got a kick-arse FPS, Red Steel, that I adore the control scheme of and can't get enough of.
I've got a wonderful mix of mini sports games that I enjoy playing with my flatmates.
I've even got a pretty nifty racing game!

I really do think the big N are onto a winner with the Wii, sorry, wiinner!

The Xbox360 may rule the roost when it comes to graphics, but for gameplay, the Wii is king. It's expanding the market like nothing else before it and I look forward to the future releases on it.

For me, the wonderful thing is load times, or lack of them. Very rarely am I kept waiting, which is a good thing.
I'm willing to wait for an expensive meal, or for a bus, but damnit I paid a lot of money for this entertainment and I want it NOW. Entertain me, bitches!

Vice City Stories on PSP is one of the few games that rarely has loading times, just like all other GTA games.
(I don't count Liberty City Stories as good, on account of it being repetitive shite. However, I always adored the setting of Vice City, so I love the "sequal").

Ramble ends!


29 November 2006

Two stand.

Two people.

It doesn't matter who they are, or where, or when. Just that there are two and that they stand, side by side, holding hands.

Each holding onto the other's hand, as if it were some sort of shield against the horrors they are experiencing.

There is indeed something that links us all together, a togetherness in the face of adversity. Alone things are hard, but together they are never quite so terrible.
Sometimes we can't survive something without that other person, standing there with us.

Audio players under Linux

23 November 2006

Being the hardcore opensourcey dude that I am, my music is all in Ogg Vorbis.

No, seriously, I wasn't being sarcastic.
It actually offends me when I mention this to other linux geeks and they find it amusing. I don't quite see why it's funny that I don't use MP3, surely it's a good thing that I use an open format?

Anyway, there's plenty of players available these days, but very few appeal. I currently own an iriver H320, much like my non open-sourcey friend, Hannah. I have no idea how she finds hers, I must ask some time, however, I have considerable issues with mine;

  • It's bulky
  • It's about as un-chic as it is possible to be
  • The interface is an absolute bitch to use

Now the looks may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but I find it difficult to carry the banner for open source when the devices that I am restricted to look like 1970s NASA rejects.

However, recently, iriver announced their 4GB "clix" - linky

This appeared on Digg and it was discussed how it doesn't seem to support linux OotB, or at least, it's a major pain in the arse (i.e. firmware changes, hardware tweaks).

There's an increasing trend towards not treating DAPs like UMS (Universal Media Storage, I think) and instead demanding they use crap like WMP. I had that problem with a HP120 (I think that's what it's called), a 20GB HP DAP, not an iriver. I took the shiny piece of junk back and got a refund.

I really wish an enterprising company would produce a low-cost, open-source DAP that supports Ogg Vorbis, is nicely fashionable and about the size of an iPod Nano. I'm fed up of lugging my H320 around in its protective case (it may seem silly, but that case has saved it so many times during my travels around the globe).

That isn't to say I want to be rid of my iRiver, just that it isn't so good for my daily commute. It's great for longer journeys as I can store lots of data on it, but during the week I'd like something small that I can tuck in a discrete pocket.

Digg this.

Currently, Kino is my favourite video editor. I adore its simplicity and functionality.

What I don't like, however, is its awful website, .
It's unfriendly, outdated and doesn't show off Kino at all.

Work continues on Kino, but not on the site it seems, with the " Kino User Guide" last being update in 2004 and before then 2002. Are we due for an update in 2006 too?

The front page of the site strikes me as not only cluttered, but badly thought out.

Why do we care more about outdated stories from users than the latest news posts?

The first link I see is "archive", described as "old stuff". Why don't they just call the whole site that? Why do I need a special link to the archive when there's already so much old stuff on there?

I don't know whether the site holds any good developer-centric content as I'm no developer and so wouldn't know a good developer site if one poked me in the eye, however, from a user's point of view, I'm immediately turned off by the site. Despite the project being very much alive, it feels like wandering into the web-equivalent of an old house. Someone once lived here, but they're long gone. Kinda like the Diva site! (Although the Diva site is good, other than its abandoned-ness, woo, new word!)

As I mentioned earlier, the User Guide section is in serious need of an update, it feels untouched since 2004 and a program like this has so much potential, surely a nice userguide isn't that much to ask for?

If I have the time, I plan on writing more about Kino, as it's a program I think deserves more coverage than it's currently getting.

Before then though, I have more to say about the site..
Why is it so text-heavy (and not even very good text!) with so few pics? Why the hell is the screenshot section so spacey?

Mmmm, pretty gaps..

Even then, the newest screenshot is from Kino 0.8.0. Nice. Except that the newest version of Kino is 0.9.3.

Furthermore, now that services such as YouTube and GoogleVideo (amongst others) are so pervasive, why can't we have some embedded videos of work done with Kino? (Hell, there's even a functional version of Flash 9 available!)

My final point to make is one that is particularly close to my heart..

That's the proper size for it. Compare that with the one on the Kino site..

Digg this.

Choosing music

16 November 2006

Why is it that my music collection seems so much better when I listen to it blind to the current track?

When I'm given the control to change the song at will I seem to become a lot easier to please and furthermore, the "next" button seems to bring up the same stuff that I don't want to listen to time and time again (I tend to have my music app set to shuffle). It's not that I don't like the music, it's just that it's not the kind of music I feel like listening to at that moment in time.

My music collection spans some five thousand tracks (possibly more, I've not checked in a while) and yet I struggle to find something suitable to listen to. Why is that?

What happened to Diva?

13 November 2006

Diva seemed to hold such promise when Michael Dominic was interviewed about it on LUGRadio, way back in April, but since then the site seems to have sat empty and unused for months with no fresh progress made.

Oh, Diva, where art thou?!

Ubuntu's colour scheme..

08 November 2006

I read a little bitchy blog post earlier, posted on

It made various points about Ubuntu, negative points.
I don't oppose criticism of Ubuntu, especially when it's stuff that's important (Such as "Why the hell is wireless such a pain in the arse?!"), however, this was (aside from a couple of points), pretty much biased opinionated crap.

Allow me to elaborate, or, I suppose, you could go have some coffee instead and make more productive use of your life than reading this jumbled collection of thoughts and opinions.

When I think about it, it's not just opinions that are the problem, not at all, it's more when someone attempts to pass off their own opinion as fact without actually providing much backup to it at all, or in fact when their opinions are entirely wrong.

An example of an opinion being wrong is the point the poster made about installers..

The install process needs to have an “Easy Install” option that assumes you have Windows installed and want to keep it then does the following:partitions some space, creates a swap, configures your X server, ethernet, sound, video and other hardware settings (over the internet if needed) then makes a nice microwave style “ping” sound when it isready to be used.

The Dapper installer (and Edgy too) DOES have an easy installer! It asks you for a username and pass, along with some region info to get the keyboard layout right and can do all the partitioning for you!
I think the installer should be made even easier, true, but it is considerably easier to use than the Windows installer, I can tell you! (Speaking from experience, having to have to reinstall Windows on all sorts of different machines in the past)

Now, to return to my point of stupid opinions..

Ubuntu is brown.

Yes, and?

Just because Windows is blue and OSX is silvery, both by default, doesn't mean Ubuntu has to be like them. Why should it be? Ubuntu is Ubuntu, not OSX or Windows!
Also, in my experience, many people find the warm shades of brown to be quite earthy and welcoming. It seems the poster is still a bit immature though, as they seem to immediately associate it with the colour of shit.

Grow up, lad.

But wait, there's more!

Ubuntu has stupid, cutsie-pootsie animal names that piss me off.

That piss YOU off. That's nice for you. If it bothers you that much, refer to Ubuntu by its version numbers. Don't like Dapper Drake? Call it Ubuntu 6.06!

How about making sure every name has some technical sounding initials (ME, XP, OS X etc etc). Ubuntu X5 sounds a hell of a lot better than Edgy sodding Eft.

Perhaps you don't know, dude, but a great many computer users find technology a bit intimidating. They don't WANT it to sound really technical, they want it to feel a bit more human and a bit less faceless-corporation-y (How's THAT for making up adjectives!).

He continues on for several more points with utter tripe such as "this is the way Windows users do it. Do it their way!" An example:

The way EVERYONE installs software outside of the Debian mini-verse is like this: go to website or insert CD, download software, double click on software icon, click all of the “Yes or Okay” dialog boxes. Done.

No, the way most people do it is, find a bit of software, download what they THINK is the right file, find it's a compressed archive and get a bit confused. Perhaps they then figure out how to extract it (or ask a nearby geek for help). If they manage to then open it up, they just click "Okay" until the installer goes away. Then begins the hunt for the new program.. hidden somewhere on the desktop or in the folds of the start menu.

How does Ubuntu do it?


Really tough, I know.

The author takes some time to say that Ubuntu is ugly and unsexy too. I call BS. Have you looked at Windows XP lately? Like actually looked? Now compare that to Dapper or Edgy. If you still think Ubuntu is ugly, go see an optician.

He makes the odd valid point, such as we need more gaming support, but even then he seems to totally misunderstand how open source development works.. (Dude, you don't just "assign" people to a project - "Here, you, make the textures for this game" unless they actually want to be a part of that project. They're donating their time, but it's not unconditional, you know.)

Open Source Games

30 October 2006

I was just going through the games listing in Ubuntu 6.10, Edgy Eft and thinking about how we're really lacking in respectable open-source games.

Certainly, there's a fair few excellent games, but not that many that appear to be up-to-date, or even near to it, graphically. I know graphics don't matter that much, I mean I can honestly say I believe in that, after all, one of my favourite games of all time is Fallout and its sequel (I actually dreamt about playing the game sometimes!). However, it had these wonderful isometric graphics that showed all sorts of fun details.

The graphics in most open source games seem to either be overly "cartoony" or very primitive 3D. You know, it'd be nice if projects could recruit some good artists and some good 3D modellers.
I know it's not always so easy to do, but for a project to be respectable, I believe it should consider graphics and textures a serious priority, we've got plenty of good programmers, but we could really do with some artistic talent too!

Much as the LUGRadio guys say, we've got shitloads of great game engines but hardly any that actually use the damn things!

I don't see why videogame development students, along with any budding video game developers or artists don't see the window of opportunity here. Surely if they were to contribute a few hours a week of their spare time to a project it would then count in their favour in seeking a job?

If you could say "I did much of the graphical work in the newest version of Freecraft", wouldn't that be ace?

Anyway, that's all I had to say, goodnight, all.

In the Times on Saturday (that's the Times as in Britain, not the New York Times or other) there was an article called "Y txtng cn b v gd 4 improving linguitic ability of children". I don't know whether you, dear reader, know of my personal opinion on text speak, but it is as follows: I find it visually repulsive, overly patronising, incomprehensible and lazy. Whilst I can understand it, I can only do so if I put in considerable effort to do so and generally what I read does not justify the effort spent on decyphering it.

I personally touch-type, meaning I do not really have to think about the mechanics of typing, I just think of what I want to say and then let my fingers do the rest. If anything, typing in txt spk would take me longer than typing things out in full!

This article raised an interesting point which was as follows:

A study of the spelling and punctuation of 11-year-olds who regularly use mobile text messaging found no difference between their attainment and the average achievement levels of non-texting pupils of the same age and educational level.
-The Times, Saturday September 9 2006

This is rather nice to hear and suggests that there is hope for the English language yet. However, it does not necessarily change my stance. I won't force people to stop using txt spk in general, but I do expect them to have the courtesy not to use it around me. This is especially true of online forums.
I do not see any legitimate reason for txt spk to be used on a forum.
A full keyboard is used for input, so it's not like it's difficult to use all the letters.
There's no time limit and messages are not charged per character.

I can understand people using txt spk on a crowded IRC channel, although I still would appreciate it if they didn't!
Additionally, I can understand people using txt spk for in-game chat.

However, there is quite clearly a time and a place for these things and it does appear that a great many young people do not learn the correct time and place for things, as reflected in my last blog post.
Ignorance is one thing, but blatent apathy is quite another.

I have found many forum users abject lack of effort to produce meaningful sentences in their native language quite appalling. It insults me that they cannot even be bothered to spend the extra fraction of a second required to type "for", rather than "4". If they cannot be bothered to be considerate of the social circumstances, why should I bother to answer their questions?

If they proceed to politely apologise when informed of their social faux pax, all is forgiven and extra courtesy is granted towards them for apologising (why do people not APOLOGISE any more?!). However, a great many have replied "dis iznt skool so hu cares???". Quite. I care. It matters to me how people speak. Eloquence will get you much further than you think and will do much to grease the gears of social interaction.

I just hope that people can be taught when it is acceptable to speak casually and when more formal English is required, just as I would expect them to learn as they grow up when it is appropriate to wear jeans and a tshirt and when it would be more apt to wear a shirt and tie.

Mmm wirelessness

08 September 2006

Well, I've got hold of a new wireless card from ebay. Again, one selected from the list due to the fact that it works “out of the box” with Linux. There's something wonderful about plugging in the card only to find it will work straight away, with no drivers or other such nonsense!

So, well, yes, I have a laptop with wireless capabilities that is tiny and secondly, I passed my driving test! w00t!

Life is good.

Yesterday, whilst walking through my local town, I heard a few young people jokingly shouting at each other.

Two of them were walking down the street and were being heckled by some friends who happened to be coming out of an adjacent shop at the time.

This in itself didn't strike me as overly unusual, but the words they were using and in the context struck me as extremely poor judgement and made me wonder who did (or apparently didn't) teach these kids how to behave.

They were around fifteen, sixteen, perhaps seventeen, but not much older. Not adults, but easily old enough to know better.

Is it considered socially acceptable these days to shout profanities at each other at midday in the middle of a busy shopping street?

To me it is not only very rude, but shows a distinct apathy towards society.

I'm not personally offended by the words used. I've called my friends similar things in jest and worse, however, I did not do it loudly whilst surrounded by shoppers of all ages.

It interests me what sort of background these kids came from along with what sort of training they've had. It seems both old-fashioned, prejudiced and cold, but hear me out.

By background, I don't mean race, religion or economic, I merely mean whether their parents raised them, or whether they left them to mostly fend for themselves, so to speak, feeding and clothing them but little more.

I was raised mostly around adults. It probably shows.

I don't just mean people who are old enough to be categorised as adults, no. I mean people who understand that they must generally be responsible, think about their decisions and act appropriately. Too many young people seem to be becoming adults and having no idea regarding what this entails. They are surprised when they are expected to make important decisions, deal with difficult issues and be part of society at large. They seem to think that being an adult is just about working and then spending time in the pub (don't forget watching the latest reality TV on the box or whatever Premier League match happens to be on). That isn't being an adult. That's just being a big kid with a salary.

It is quite difficult to explain the concepts that I'm talking about as the differences are in the fine details. I think it can partly be expressed as abject apathy with regards to anything but their own short-term interests. "I want this. Now."

I was raised to know that when in public, it is not acceptable form to shout obscenities at each other. It is not okay. If you want to do that, do it somewhere where you have a modicum of privacy, such as in the park or at home. In the streets when they're full of people ain't acceptable.

Similarly, it wouldn't be appropriate to come to a job interview (in the majority of cases) in ripped jeans and a tshirt. It may be what you're comfortable with, but what you want to wear and what is expected of you are not always the same thing. Remember that.

There are certain expectations that it is quite acceptable to not necessarily meet, but these are the exceptions, not the rule.

People will be a lot more willing to be civil, helpful and positive if you act properly and at least satisfy the social expectations. Their personal expectations are a different matter entirely, so let's not confuse the two!

For example, if they see a photo of you attached to your CV, they might expect you to be rather lazy and uncommunicative, that would, however, be a personal expectation.

However, as it was an interview, you would be expected to treat the interviewer with respect, rather than being totally informal. That is a social expectation.

In my view, it is a social expectation for young people to behave a little better than they did. Boys will be boys, certainly, but there are limits to this sort of thing!

Parkour and Perception

03 September 2006

A recent insight I had into human perception was caused by the introduction of parkour into my way of thinking. I've not actually taken up parkour, but nonetheless, I have started to think of things in the parkour way.

The perception of ourselves and the outside world is regulated by the way we think. The world changes when we observe it.

For example, I am interested in graffiti and tagging - when I see a blank, urban surface, I do not see a concrete wall, as others might. No, I see a drawing board. Similarly, in the parkour way of thinking, a railing is not just a railing. It is an obstacle to both overcome and explored.

A skater might see a potential grinding place. How we think affects what we see.

This is true of ourselves too. Whilst I may look in the mirror at my long, golden hair and think "my hair looks good", someone else might see it as effeminate.

It's interesting to be able to see things that others cannot, I cannot deny it. Others see obstacle where I see opportunity. Difficulty where I see challenge.

An extension of this is how we deal with each other and those around us. A shy person sees a party as a threat, an outgoing person sees it as a chance to make new friends.

In our increasingly urbanised landscape, I think parkour will flourish. It strikes me as not a revolutionary way of thinking, but certainly as evolutionary. It builds on many other philosophical disciplines, taking advantage of our modern environment, rather than seeing the urbanisation of our world as detriment to physical activity.

Ubuntu's weak points

12 July 2006

The first thing I'd like to say before I level criticism at Ubuntu is that I adore it and have been running it on my laptop since Hoary beta. It's a fantastic OS and is doing great things.

However, during my experience with it (having installed it on quite a few other machines) I have come across a few glaring failings that will hamper widespread adoption on the desktop and they are as follows:

  1. Wireless support

    -I know this isn't entirely the Ubuntu team's fault, but that doesn't change the fact that something must be done and that they are the best candidates for the job. Wireless support is better than it was, but it has a long way to go yet.

  2. Printer support
    -I was attempting to install a printer earlier this month and struggled terribly - printer support is a must for desktop adoption - people use printers a lot and so there has to be support. Lots of support.

  3. Webcam support
    -This may seem silly, but I know lots of people who use webcams on a regular basis and cannot really switch to Linux even if they wanted to due to the fact that their webcams won't work!
    I myself have an old logitech cam that I no longer use which works just fine with linux, however one of my more generic webcams (currently loaned to my girlfriend) has no support whatsoever. I was working on making a point about how my newest cam, a Creative Webcam Notebook was selected partially because it is supported by Linux. aMSN used to have issues with it, but now, using aMSN 0.96-Release candidate 1 it works straight away and I've no problems with it at all.
    Webcam support is pretty crucial to some people - it's the little things that often count a lot when trying to convert people.

  4. Simple, user-friendly video editing

    -Windows has Windows Movie Maker and I know a lot of medium-skilled home users (the sort who would consider moving to Linux if it was worth it) who like to edit their videos and upload them to YouTube or similar. The thing being, currently, it's pretty tricky to do that.
    Sure, we've got Cinelerra, but its menus are horribly clunky and awkward, it's overly complicated (from a home user's POV) and in my experience with it, doesn't really do that good a job!
    Kino is better, but I still needed to find a random variable in its scripts and change it to get it to import any video format other than .dv!
    I'm hoping Diva will fill this role if it comes to fruition, fingers-crossed.
  5. Generally, I feel Ubuntu is getting closer with every new release, however I'd like to see certain points addressed first.
    More generally, I think we need to focus on making menus more uniform, clean and user-understandable. What we often overlook is that just because a menu makes perfect sense to us doesn't mean it will to a home user.

I like Audacity a lot, but I do feel that it needs a Ubuntu version or otherwise optimising for Ubuntu as currently its menus feel a bit clunky and the colour scheme seems kind of out of place. It's a nice bit of software, but it needs some polish (Remember, users often will turn away from a package that is intimidating or that they don't like the look of without giving it a chance. Grab them straight off!).

Whilst on the subject of audio, I think Rhythmbox will soon be in suitable state for "prime time" as people seem to say. It didn't used to work with my iRiver but has come on in leaps and bounds and now finally can read music straight off it, which I'm very pleased with. My only current gripe with Rhythmbox is that it has issues with certain podcast feeds, such as the Ubuntu Podcast one, but I expect these will be resolved in the near future.

I'm also a bit of a Picasa fanboy and would like to see either it or something similar bundled with Ubuntu as it's a great bit of kit.

That reminds me actually - it'd be nice if OpenOffice had a little wizard that would run when one first uses it saying something along the lines of "Are you going to be working with people who use Microsoft Office, as if you are, we'd recommend you set the default file format to be Microsoft ones" although in simpler words designed to make it easy for home users.

The last application related matter I can think of right now is more regarding default application choices - wouldn't Thunderbird be a better choice than Evolution for a home user? (A serious question, perhaps Evolution has merits which I don't realize)

I'm sure there are more things which I will need to cover later, but those are the main points that spring to mind right now.

Digg this


I shall waste space on your servers with my photo uploads!

*runs around with underpants on his head*

*gets told off by girlfriend*

*behaves* Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Sw33t, this blog thingy works!

Well yes, I've used blogs before, it's not that, it's more that getting different tools to work together is pretty cool.

Nevertheless, I'm rather irritated that I can't blog from my mobile due to the simple fact that 3 aren't supported.

Oh well, I can still email from my phone, I just can't email with photos (pretty godsdamned annoying, to say the least..)

I have no idea how this blog entry will turn out, but at least it proves that picasa publishing works under Linux. Woo!

This photo was taken up on the mountains of Southern New Zealand. Enjoy. Posted by Picasa