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Where’s Wally?

He’s pretty easy to spot in this one:

09-28-07-wheres-wally.jpg

It brings back memories, I used to read lots of Wally books when I was a young ‘un. Spending hours staring at them looking for fecking Wally…

Anyhoo, the above is from a site, Truck Bearing Kibble, seems to have a stack of more surreal cartoon strips. Well worth a look!

Someone is wrong on the Internet

Today’s xkcd strip made me laugh because it’s so true:

duty_calls.png

What have I just been doing an hour ago? Arguing with some asshat on my World of Warcraft playable on an Intel GMA 950? post.

Games Roundup for 2007 – Part One

Given that Vondur did a roundup of his favourite albums for last year ages ago, I thought I’d do a similar thing but with games… and more a rambling waffle than a nice neat list. So where do I begin…

Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – I’d not played any of the 14 other Test Drive games before but I thoroughly enjoyed this. I spend many, many hours, aimlessly driving round a fairly good recreation of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu (well as far I know, I mean I’ve never been there…). The game is always online so you have other players whizzing past you until you decide to do an SP mission, at which point all traffic is computer controlled. During free play however, if you flash your headlights at someone else that’ll start a race with them. Its pretty nifty, but I tended to get my ass kicked on that.

The aim of the game is very simple and is what I enjoyed most about it – win races to get cash to build a collection of exotic cars, motorbikes and houses. The downsides of it, are that isn’t much of looker compared to the best (looked previous gen to me), the car “handling” isn’t the greatest (it’s almost comedy like, a bit like driving in lard I imagine) and there’s no car damage. Still, it is fun!

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (PC – Gamespot) – I’m not entirely sure why I bought it since I’ve never managed to get a character past level 30 and its level 60+ content… all I can say it about is that changed the login screen from this:

Original Wow Login Screen.jpg

To this:

Burning Crusade Login Screen.jpg

Not really worth 25 quid. Although… I wonder what the login screen will look like in Wrath of the Lich King?

Crackdown (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – This was something I was not expecting to like, however after playing the demo I was totally addicted. I found its like GTA but much more fun (or should I say it’s actually fun, the last couple of GTA games for me have been feckless boring lumps of turd). Anyhoo, you’re a genetically modified police officer who can gain some truely superhero worthly abilities. That combined with the pretty vast map (no loading screens either) makes it a riot to play as the game cranks on and you can cause a level of carnage that just aren’t possible in any GTA game.

crackdown1.jpg

crackdown2.jpg

The story is dead simple. There are three islands all controlled by different gangs. Knock out the underling bosses first then the main island boss, rince and repeat three times and wait for the twist at the end. Top stuff! Hope there’s a sequel.

Halo 3 (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – Yaaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnn. I loved the original Halo, hated Halo 2 and as it turns out Halo 3 is somewhere between the two. I’d not played multiplayer Halo before since I didn’t have an Xbox Live account for the original Xbox. I tried the Halo 3 multiplayer demo and that’s all the multiplayer I’ve played. I know that’s where it’s meant to be at for Halo 3, but it just doesn’t appeal to me (multiplayer FPS’s only work properly on the PC).

halo3createsftw.jpg

So, the core of my experience was with the single player game which was a repetitive pile of ass. Halo has always been like that, but 3rd time round it was starting to grate. I’d go as far as to say it was a rehash of the original Halo with marginally better graphics (not a patch on Gears of War which was out in 2006!). It even ended with a crappy driving sequence just like the original. And had a terrible ending.

halo3kaboom.jpg

But it must have done something right if I managed to finish it (I lasted an hour in Halo 2). I’m kinda puzzled by it really. On the one hand I dislike it but on the other, it can be fun at times. I think it comes down to me having huge expectations of it being a great finish to the trilogy and it just wasn’t.

Forza Motorsport 2 (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – I’d not played the Xbox original but like Crackdown, was impressed by the demo. It seemed to offer almost Gran Turismo levels of realism and car tweakage but without the stupidly tough opponents. Well, the first part of that is true, but it does get rock hard as it progresses… which is pretty much where I left it. I got stuck and gave up. Graphically its great, the handling is realistic without being too hard to control, you can go nuts on the car modification (strip weight from it for an easy win!), but it gets too hard too quickly for me :(

Colin McRae’s DiRT (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – I’m a big fan of the Colin McRae series of games (I’ve played them all) and so had high hopes for this. And I wasn’t disappointed. It looks superb, probably the best of any racer on the 360, screenshots don’t do it justice, you have to see it running. As always the handling was just what I’d expect, spot on. No other series of racers I’ve played seems to have the same level of feedback that Codemasters games do. Plus, this is only game I’ve got the full 1000 points for on my Xbox.

ColinMcRaeDirt1.jpg

You’ve got various stages set round the globe from Japan with its damp tarmac to the rough dirt tracks of Australia. One of my faves of which was the full Pike’s Peak run. You have to really concentrate to do a full successful run of it.

Things that didn’t work so well were the buggy and large truck races. Its akin to Project Gotham Racing 4 where they felt the need to add bikes, it’s not needed. The core rally driving is what makes it. The buggy driving was a bit too random thanks to the bumpy terrain.

As an aside, I hope even after Colin’s death last year, they keep on making games with his name because as far as I’m concerned, its synonymous with rally.

More Brain Training (Nintendo DS – Gamespot) – Repetition, repetition, repetition. Its fun for a couple of weeks until you’ve opened up all the games and then realise only the first few are any good. I do however love the Sudoku puzzles. I still occasionally play it for that.

Project Gotham Racing 4 (Xbox 360 – Gamespot) – Like the Colin McRae series, I’ve played all of Bizarre Creations racing games right back to Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast. So for PGR4 the main improvement are the weather effects. They’re pretty damn convincing. The way puddles and pools of water form across the tracks when there’s a heavy down pour really spices things up. You’ve got to adjust your braking points and really take the conditions into the account. The Nurburgring under snow is a laugh. The fastest lap replays round there take the strangest of lines.

pgr4-1.jpg

The other new addition are bikes and they’re a waste of time. You have to ride them a few times in order to complete the game, but I really wish they hadn’t. I think the problem lies in the handling. In Test Drive 4 bikes are easy to ride, here they’re just too fidgety and fiddly.

All in all though, it is just more of the same, just shinier. I’m kinda wondering though what the future of the PGR series is now given that Bizarre have been bought by Activision and Microsoft own the rights to PGR… good way to finish though if it’s the last one!

Brain Academy (Nintendo DS – Gamespot) – Like Braining Training but with better presentation and harder, more annoying games. Played it 3 or 4 times. Bleh. Even Kate doesn’t like it.

Part Two shall appear later on in the week (and contains only one more racing game).

What’s wrong with this advert?

Bonus question, what does it say about public transport in Manchester?

ManchesterMetroShuttle-3cogs=Locked.jpg

From b3ta. You’ll also find the answer there :).

So that’s how you play World of Warcraft…

A couple of WoW addicts decided to best way to spend some time together was to have his and her’s WoW setups:

wowaddict1.jpg

Nothing wrong that, except they don’t just play with one character, but twenty three… each. Enough to run their own guild. And how would you do that? With 47 shuttle PCs obviously, neatly arranged:

wowaddict2.jpg

wowaddict3.jpg

Mmmmm… quite!

Via Gizmodo and Flickr.

iPod touch!

Why have you got one when you’ve already got an iPod Shuffle you ask? Ah, well, that’s easy an one:

ConsumerWhoreiPodTouch.jpg

See Don Hertzfeldt’s classic, Rejected for the reference :)

There’s no other reason than that. So, here is the little monkey:

iPodtouch.JPG

I bought an 8GB model off eBay earlier in week. I didn’t go for the 16GB mainly due to cost but also one thing I realised from having a Shuffle was that you don’t need to have all your music to hand. Yeah I know, I’m a bit late to game on that one when it comes to playlists, but I’m getting the hang of them now.

Anyhoo, I got a bargain at £150 (+ 13 quid P&P) versus the RRP of £199. I was a bit annoyed with the eBay seller since they’d listed it as one of the new models which has Mail, Maps, Notes, Stocks, editable Calender, etc, aka the January Software Upgrade, but wasn’t. So I coughed up £13 quid for it and the total wasn’t much different from what Amazon are selling them for (£175) (and they’re the pre-update too). With the software upgrade it makes like a mini PDA. Using iTunes I’ve been able to sync up all my contacts and notes, which is nice.

Initial thoughts are that the battery life with wifi enabled is lousy. I haven’t tried running it until its flat but I reckon it would be less than 4 hours if you were constantly web browsing. However with wifi off, its much better. Again, I’m not sure how long it would last in total, but I used it a few days at work now (so say about 3 to 4 hours a day) and the battery indicator has hardly moved!

Web browsing with Safari is pretty good. You can have multiple windows open at once and switch between them relatively quickly, however I don’t recommend having lots open since it can make the poor thing chug! I thought perhaps the lack of flash support would be a problem, but it’s not. It’s actually been great because most sites now have no adverts appearing!

Thanks to the Accelerometer you can switch between landscape and portrait views. Some web pages work better in landscape and some the opposite. The Times for example is much better in portrait since its still perfectly readable and you get more on screen. Most apps seem to be in portrait mode whereas videos and cover flow mode for music are in landscape.

Of course the thing about the iPod touch is the touch interface to it, which I just love, its incredibly intuitive and there’s a wonderful tactile sensation to stroking it :D You’ve got two buttons. The home button, which is the white square you can see on the photos, and the power / lock button at the top left of the device. That’s it. Everything else is controlled by the screen. Thing is I now want everything to have a touch screen interface! Damn you Apple!

Especially for Bal #2

Next time Bal re-installs Windows and wants to know how to stop Windows Explorer automatically expanding folders when you click on them, just whack the following in the registry (via RegEdit):

  • Browse to the User Key of:
    • \HKEY_CURRENT_USER
    • \Software
    • \Microsoft
    • \Windows
    • \CurrentVersion
    • \Explorer
    • \Advanced
  • Add / Edit the Value Name of FriendlyTree
  • Its Data Type should be REG_DWORD (DWORD Value)
  • Set its Value Data to 0 for disabled or 1 for enabled

Stop being so friendly Explorer!

Part #1.

The crappy deal BT are offering to keep broadband customers

I got a phone call from BT earlier today asking me if would I like a £2 a month reduction in my broadband package, and as part of the deal I would also get a free BT wireless hub if I didn’t already have one and 5GB of secure storage on the BT Digital Vault. That sounds super right? So why did I say no to it?

The reason is pretty simple, I’d have sign up on a 12 month contract. Errr… so…

  • I’d save a whooping 24 quid a year.
  • I wouldn’t get a wireless router because I already have one.
  • The 5GB of space is utterly useless to me since I already have 10GB on my .Mac account and 750GB (yes 750) on this very website.
  • Oh and get locked in for another year.

Not much of an incentive is it?! How about knocking a tenner a month off my bill then I’d think about it. Why do companies like BT use cold calling tactics like this? I detest companies that do it. It might have worked in this case if the deal wasn’t so crappy, but as it is, it disgruntles existing customers like me and puts me off using their services again.

I have been pondering about changing to Sky Broadband for ages since we already have Sky and its broadband package is a damn sight cheaper and the service seems the same. Now might be a good time to switch!

Note to Weather – Please try harder

Woke up yesterday and it looked like this:

Snowy Home - 2008-02-02.JPG

Woke up today and it looked like this:

The Usual at Home - 2008-02-03.JPG

When it snows, I wish it would do it properly! :)

The line on the left of the photos is a wire going to an old radio aerial we’ve got on the roof that we no longer use. I suppose I should get rid of it since the wire is not really tacked to the house anymore, but me, ladders and heights don’t really agree.

New Blog Theme

The old theme was getting really long in the tooth (I know I changed from it once before and went back…) but this time I think I’ll stick with this. Its pretty simple and a bit cleaner looking me thinks. It’s based on the Qwilm! theme which is apparently based on another theme… anyway, I’m tinkering with the CSS and colours and wotnot to get it to my liking so it may change a bit over the next week or so.

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