BumpTop – Your Desktop in 3D

Well this is certainly weird. The idea is you have a GUI that looks like a desk with your files laid out as documents. You can use pen movements (at least that what it says in the video, so appears to be running on Tablet PC) to do various things such as group documents together, stack them, throw them about or tag them to walls.

BumpTop

If it’s meant as a Windows desktop replacement then it wouldn’t be much use to me since I tend to keep mine empty. Also nothing in the demo’s showed how you identify a specific file. All you have are the icon images appearing. If you’ve got 10 Acrobat files, how do you know which is which?

Unfortunately there is nothing downloadable to try at the moment but I am very curious to see how it’ll work in practice.

Damn you Vondur (again)

After much persuasion (i.e. none) I bought LocoRoco today for the PSP. Vondur had pointed me to the demo a while back and I loved it. The full game has to be the gaming equivalent of crack in UMD form. I’ve played it just over two hours and I’m now on the third world (out of five I think).

 LocoRoco1 LocoRoco2

It’s basically a puzzle / action game where you play the part of a LocoRoco (the small yellow blobs, although you do meet friends that are in different colours). Their world has been invaded by various Kojya, Mojya, Oiya and other characters who have scared the LocoRoco’s away and your job is to group them all back up again.

 LocoRocoMojya LocoRocoMusukusu

You don’t directly control them, but tilt the level instead. It’s in 2D perspective and levels move about 30 degrees left or right. The levels have all sorts of weird and wonderful contraptions that either help or hinder your progress.

LocoRoco3 LocoRoco4

It’s totally bizarre with a very quirky sense of humour. Watching the LocoRoco’s singing for the first time is hilarious. If you want an idea of what it’s like, try out the flash LocoRoco site. The navigation through it is pretty much like the game.

Anyhoo, I’d better get back to it, I’ve got LocoRoco’s to save!

Pinball Fantasies

Damn you Jeff Atwood! This is all your fault (I mean that in a nice way). Jeff did a post a few weeks back about PC Pinball games. One of my favourites was a DOS game called Pinball Fantasies. It brought back memories from the good old DOS days where every game had it’s only config.sys and autoexec.bat where some required extended memory (XMS), some required expanded memory (EMS) and some were picky enough to need over 600k of conventional memory (Syndicate I’m looking at you), in which case QEMM (Quarterdeck Expanded Memory Manager) was put into action.

PF1 PF2

I used to play Pinball Fantasies for hours on end, massing up stupidly high scores on the Partyland and Stones and Bones tables (there are four tables in total). Unfortunately I no longer had the original to hand due to great floppy disk clearance of 2000. So off I went in search of it, and lo and behold I found a copy on Abandonia.

Trying to play it under Windows XP is a futile experience, which is where DOSBox comes in. It’s a DOS emulator specifically designed to work with DOS games. It even goes to the trouble of emulating the old Soundblaster sound cards. After a bit of fiddling I was up and running again…

PF4 PF3 

Going back to an old game is usually a disappointment since you tend to hold them in higher esteem than they really were. But in this case, that couldn’t be more wrong. It’s just how I remember it, with the cheesy sound effects and over the top music. It’s still as playable and addictive as it was back in 1994. It’s a real time sink. I noticed that the sequel, Pinball Illusions, is also on Abandonia, but I was never keen on that. As I as I’m concerned they’d already hit pinball perfection with Fantasies.

Cartoons…

This is kind of an insight into my warped mind. I was writing an email at dinner yesterday to Kate about the wonderful people at the local VW garage from work (I rung them up last Monday to book it in, and they put that day down as the book in date even though they’d agreed yesterday). Anyhoo, the email’s title was “Those eeeediots…” as in Ren from Ren and Stimpy (except he’d say “you stoopid ediot”, usually at Stimpy).

Anyhoo, thinking of Ren and Stimpy lead me to Wikipedia… and it reminded me of the old cartoons me and my brother used to watch on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. In no particular order I looked up:

Ah the memories. Unfortunately all of them have ended their runs now. Something I kinda knew at the time of watching, but only just confirmed was that Michael Dorn, Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation, did the voice of I. M. Weasel in I am Weasel. That was a weird cartoon.

My fave out of that lot? Dexter’s Lab. I’m still reminded of it since Kate’s mum has a cat called Deedee, which is also the name of Dexter’s sister. Difference is that the cat is fecking evil:

EvileDeeDee

If we could get her in pink tutu she might not seem so bad.

Top Gear earlier tonight

So they decided to go on a caravan holiday. It’s a disaster from start to finish. They manage to make the labradoodle sick, crash the caravan into a metal post leaving a service station, get cautioned by the police for holding up traffic whilst attempting a U turn, crush the awning on another caravan when parking up and then burn down their caravan (and the one next door) by a starting a chip pan fire.

TopGearFire

It makes for brilliant TV (I haven’t laughed so much in ages), but there comes a point when you think it must be rigged. Both the police and the fire brigade were involved here. I mean come on, surely someone got bollocked for it?

On the plus side they destroyed another two caravans. It’s also a fairly damning statement of caravan owners out there and in a way it makes you feel sorry for them. OK, they may hold you up on the roads for hours on end, but when they get there to their chosen destination, most of them don’t seem to do a great deal. It’s pretty grim. Personally I can’t see the logic in spending so many thousand for a tin box on wheels. I’d rather stay in a local bed and breakfast than have my home on wheels.

Oh, and it’s official James May looks like a Quaker.

QuakerOatsChap JamesMayQuaker

James May                Quaker

French Grand Prix

Oh bugger. Looks like I was wrong about the strong Ferrari performance at Indy being a blip. It looks like they’re well and truly back. Schumacher looked to coasting out front with plenty in reserve. It’s ominous for the rest of the season, but equally it’ll make for an exciting championship.

Alonso, made a good save in taking second place after a bad start. Massa did a good job in keeping him back in the opening laps but the switch over in strategy to get Alonso ahead, by changing from a three to two stop run, was an excellent move.

Overall though, it was a pretty boring race. Button had a terrible weekend just like in Silverstone, starting from 19th. To then have his engine go, as it did for Barrichello, put to rest a terrible weekend. You’ve got to hand to Jenson though, he is remaining upbeat and shrugging off, what is now getting to be annoying, the media’s questions of if he is looking at leaving Honda. He seems determined to continue on at Honda, and rightly so. With the investment Honda is making it’s hard not to see them succeeding.

Williams poor run continued. The back left tyres on both Webber and Rosberg’s cars were delaminating due a problem with excess load and overheating. Impressive to watch, but dangerous to drive with hence them both retiring.

As to Montoya’s sudden move to Nascar? Oh. To me it always seemed that he was never fully committed to Formula One. Obviously he deserved to be there, his previous track record in CART proved that, but a serious of odd incidents (like his “tennis” injury) and the uptight culture of Formula One didn’t really help.

Next up is Hockenheim in Germany. Renault have some upgrades due then so should make for an interesting race.

Sky+ is evil!

Why? Because it means I can record crap I would otherwise miss and not be bothered about watching. Drx280_ppHold your horses you say, what is Sky+? Ah well, it’s essentially a normal Sky TV satellite box but with a hard drive in to record programmes with. The really cool thing is that on the Sky+ box you can pause live TV, and then get it to resume. Or rewind it. I know these things have been out years, but it’s all new to me. Skipping through adverts on recorded programmes is great.

The geek in my checked out what they were and the Sky+ one is an Amstrad DRX280, which has a 160GB drive in it and Drx550_ppthe other box (we got an ordinary one for the bedroom) is an Amstrad DRX550 (but it’s apparently made by Thompson).

I was little worried by some of the posts I read on the Amstrad boxes since Amstrad don’t exactly have the greatest reputation for build quality. The Sky box has been fine, no problems at all but I suspect that’s because they didn’t make it. The Sky+ box on the other hand has been dodgy. When we first got it when left to it’s own devices for a long period of time, it just crashed and turned itself off. Also playback on recorded programs would sometimes skip and the audio went out of sync with the pictures. It seems though that since the box is connected to a phone line permanently it has updated itself and has, fingers crossed, fixed those problems.

It’s amusing that some people are refusing to take the Amstrad Sky+ boxes and want Pace ones instead, which are meant to be almost bullet proof. Apparently Sky refuse to admit there is a problem. Funnily enough though, someone at work lives just down the road from the main Pace factory so I might ask him to pop over and err… nab one if this one is problematic!

Overall though I’m pretty happy with it and unfortunately it means I’m now watching more television than I should!

I no longer leave feedback

And by that I mean on sites like eBay, Amazon etc. Why? Why the hell should I? It’s an odd internet phenomenon where everyone neeeeeeds positive feedback, gold stars and “A+++++ mega super seller, please have my babies” ratings. Well I for one, will no longer take part.

When I buy something from the local Dixons, WH Smith or wherever, as I’m walking out the door, I don’t get asked to rate my shopping experience, give them a number out of five and 120 character long appraisal. By virtue of the fact I bought something and didn’t complain should tell you all you need to know.

So what’s prompted it? Well, it’s me being a bit green if I’m honest. I bought a book from one of many, many resellers on Amazon. Amazon said it would take several weeks for them to deliver it and I needed it yesterday. My selected reseller said it would be delivered in a week and be about 10 quid cheaper (it’s now only 5 quid cheaper). Too good to be true you say?

Well I ordered it. It took nearly two weeks to arrive and was packaged in what looked like a bin bag and had travelled in from Hong Kong! Would you sent something that distance in a bin bag? I wouldn’t! It was bashed up a little and bend on one of the corners but acceptable. Given that the price was still expensive, I expected it in top condition, but I did need the book.

After a couple of days I got a request for feedback. Being in a ranty mood at the time due to exam / assignment pressure and caffeine abuse I gave a 2 out of 5 for rating and a slagging off for good measure. Shortly after I received an email in pigeon English from a Mr. Yin Lin Mak asking me if I remove my feedback, I would get half the cost of the book back. But only if I removed my feedback first.

And this is where I made my mistake, I did. And then began a fun game of “Oh, I’ll send you a check (*sic) but I’ll need to order a check book first. Ok, I have a check book, it’s been sent my media mail. What do you mean it’s not arrived? Please give me your bank details”. And that’s where the fun ended. I had no intention of giving them my details!

* They were pretending to be English, but in English it’s cheque, not check, which is the American term for it.

So I’ll make this clear DO NOT BUY FROM UKBOOKSTORE2 on Amazon.co.uk. He / she / it is more concerned about selling more books than customer satisfaction. And they’re not based in the UK. I mean obviously from an email address of ukbookstore2atyahoodotcom you’d expect them to be? Right? Pah.

The problem is once you’ve removed feedback on Amazon you can’t put it back and they obviously knew this. The amusing thing is I still keep getting emails asking for feedback. Now I’ll totally admit it was the greed of getting some cash back that got me, but I’m more annoyed that this is kind of tactic people stoop to in order to get an overall positive rating!

Well now I’m going to go by the old adage of “No news is good news”. If I didn’t leave feedback, then consider it a positive! I will comment no more and further to that, I don’t wanna talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

When to watch this with wifey Friday night. Excellent stuff, completely brainless fun with lots of action. I’d definitely rate it as better than the first one. It’s more of the same but it’s seems to go pretty quickly. There are quite a few funny moments, which I wasn’t expecting and the special effects are amazing, especially so for Davy Jones and his crew and ship.

The character Bill Nighy puts in to him, in some respects, makes him quite endearing. The Scottish accent is a nice touch too. I didn’t realise until after that Davy Jones was completely computer generated and they imposed the effects on top of where Bill Nighy was. Apparently there was no blue screen in sight either. The sequences with the Kraken were impressive too, it’s got a bit of temper!

The only annoying thing is that this is really the first part of a five hour film, and it ends on a cliff hanger, that I sussed out at about half way through. Other than that minor grumble, it’s all good.

The Ninja review of it is well worth watching as well. Fave quote:

The entire cast, with the exception of Keira Knightley, was women. I thought that was a bold choice. All the pirates… <snip> If you don’t know Keira Knightley, she’s kind of a slightly more manish version of Orlando Bloom.

Hmmm… manish? I don’t think so. Makes me think though, I’d love to see Ninja’s of the Caribbean!