People in glass houses can’t afford bricks

Another day, another couple of CNET.com.au articles:

Epson EMP-TW20: The TW-20 isn’t a high end projector, and it doesn’t pretend to be. — apparently, if you get it drunk on a Friday night, it sometimes does pretend to be Frank Sinatra…

HP Compaq Presario V4114AP: If there’s one thing that the V4114AP was never going to be, it’s a blazing performance machine — and who thinks that a name like V4114AP is going to be easy for consumers to remember? Anyone?

Mmm.. shiny new (old) games

Those who know me well know that I’m something of a games collector, and that sometimes it can take me quite some time to track down a specific title. As an example, it took me about three years to track down a copy of The Raiden Project (PSOne), a somewhat uncommon title that I eventually tracked down in a tiny French games shop while I was in Paris — on my honeymoon.
Ultima IV. Behold its aging glory
Y’know, sometimes I wonder what my wife sees in me.

Anyway, I managed another minor milestone this morning, winning an eBay auction for Ultima IV (MS), complete with map, instructions and spell books. It’s quite rare, and pricewise, I did exceptionally well — as long as it turns up, of course.

Sure, it’s an old game — and I’m not exactly lacking in new titles to play, if I’m being totally honest — but it’s pretty much the game that I played throughout 1992. I sold it in 1993 to avoid starvation — ’93 was a bad, bad year for my games collection on this front, as I frequently had to sell stuff to meet bills and eat regularly, something I’m told is important — and I’ve been hunting a copy on and off ever since.

I never even knew that I could write in Korean…

One of the more interesting things about writing for companies with a large international presence is when my stuff ends up being translated into other languages. I’ve long held a soft spot for my commentaries in Russian — and now I can add cracking the no-doubt vibrant Korean market to my list of accomplishments.

Whoops. I’m meant to be slaving away right now. Back to the grindstone…

FEAR and trepidation…

An interesting night last night; I went to Vivendi Universal’s launch of F.E.A.R, which for reasons of providing a spooky atmosphere, was held at the Quarantine Station at Manly. This entailed getting in to Circular Quay and getting on a bus for an hour or so through rush hour traffic, during which time I kept myself busy playing multiplayer Everybody’s Golf (PSP) — until my battery died. Bah. I was winning, too, a pattern I wouldn’t see repeated later on in LAN F.E.A.R play. So conversation it was — firstly on the horror movie scene cuts they were showing on the bus video player — it’s amazing how a gory and scary scene loses all its effectiveness when you remove the context and just place it inbetween fifty similar clips — and then a very bizarre conversation with Alex Zaharov-Reutt about the economics of hiring midgets. Maybe you had to be there.

FEAR

The first part of the event was a somewhat annoying “ghost” tour of the quarantine facilities. I say annoying not in that I don’t beleive people have supernatural experiences, but annoying in that it’s a site with lots of history, and because the tour’s designed to invoke a “spooky” atmosphere, we kept going into these historical sites — and leaving the lamps outside. So we’d be in, say, the hospital, and the guide would be talking about a photo of the cemetary on the wall “over there” which we couldn’t bloody see, because the lamps were outside.

The other annoying factor in the tour was that I felt the ghost stuff was somewhat unnecessary. The Quarantine Station was where sick boat and plane passengers would convalesce or pass away from whatever afflicted them or their travel companions. Imagine, then, that you’ve just spent eleven months on a boat, going halfway round the world, and you finally land — and your first and last view of Australia is the insides of what eerily resembled a concentration camp. Especially as the first thing you’d do when you got off the boat was be herded into fumigation chambers for a cancer-creating infusion of sulphurous gases. From there, it’s just a quick run through the carbolic soap showers to remove your skin, and then you’d be stuck there until you got better or died. That’s grim enough that it doesn’t need spooky stories, or tour guides deliberately kicking walls to “create atmosphere”. I’d be interested to go during the day to check out the carvings at least — and from looking at the site, there are fairy penguins as well. Blast. I’d better do it quickly, though, as apparently it’s being leased out to a private concern who are going to pump money into it and turn it into a tourist site. I can see the shower-block slip-and-slide and Scarlet Fever Rollercoaster already. Eugh.

I’ll be commercially writing about F.E.A.R in due course, but my first impressions of the full game are all pretty positive, as long as one has a suitable gaming PC — and the DVD edition intro does a better job of scaring the willies out of me than any number of ghost stories. I think I acquitted myself reasonably in the LAN competition (not that I won or came all that close) but confusion about player numbers means I’m not sure how well I actually did. Being eliminated made for more time of chewing of the proverbial fat with various seedy journo types — seedy journo being a proud appelation, naturally enough — and watching the eerily good players of the game hunt each other down. FPS spectating of modern good-looking games could be a great televised event, although you’d really need a superimposed scoreboard and some free-floating cameras to really create the proper atmosphere.

We wrapped up at 10:30, made it back to Circular Quay by 11:30, and so I rushed to the station, only to find that I’d just missed a train, and that the next one was in 30 minutes. That’d see me miss my connecting train, so I jogged up to Wynyard — only to find no North Shore trains running. That meant waiting for a bus, which took me to North Sydney, then waiting for a train to get me to Hornsby, then a cab for the final leg home. Back at 1:30, asleep by 2:00 and then awake again at 6:00am to start the day afresh. Or not so fresh, as the case may be.

One step forwards, three weeks back

I perhaps overdid it yesterday — I cleaned and swept the verandah and driveway, washed the front windows and cleaned the car — with help from a little suds-soaked girl, naturally.

Of course, it’s raining this morning.

The overdid it part didn’t become evident until later in the afternoon, when my appendix scar started hurting, just as it had done a month ago. It’s a little better this morning, thankfully, but I think — well, I hope — I’m in for a quiet day of resting.

With two kids to look after. Yeah, like that’ll happen.

On the plus side, I finished another game: Destroy All Humans lies as a shattered pile of burning fleshy wreckage before my alien might. A fun game; limited in some ways that keep it from true brilliance, but fun nonetheless. Currently working through Total Overdose and Fire Pro Wrestling Returns — not that I’ll ever really “finish” the latter.

Recent Alex sightings

CNET.com.au has published some of my stuff recently:

Kyocera KX440: “If you’ve got a compelling business reason to own a push-to-talk phone, then the KX440 was built for you. If you’re after a flashier phone, it definitely isn’t.”

Denon DVD-1720: “Denon’s DVD-1720 is a simple to use progressive scan DVD player with DivX support, but little else to get really excited about.”

Dell Dimension 9100: “With both Intel and AMD solidly staking a claim to the dual core world, we can expect more applications to be rewritten (or originally conceived) with dual core applications in mind, so there’s a good argument to make that picking up a dual core machine, such as the Dimension 9100, is a solid futureproofing bet.”

3DAvenue.com has published a bunch of my games reviews recently as well:

Spider-Man 2 (PSP): “On the minus side, they seem to think that Mary Jane Watson is extremely chubby, and that Peter Parker doesn’t in fact look like Tobey Maguire – instead, he looks like the bizarre love child of Maguire and Jerry Seinfeld. It’s a striking image, and one that may just haunt your nightmares for some time to come.”

Everybody’s Golf (PSP):
“Golfers, real or digital, all wear really awful pants.”

On the print side, the November issue of NetGuide magazine hits store shelves shortly — Wednesday, I think — with reviews of Google Talk, Registry Mechanic, Netcomm Homeplug, Kodak’s V550 camera, Total Overdose and others, as well as a portable media guide, all written by yours truly. While you’re down at the Newsagent picking up a copy, you should also pick up PC User, which has my review of Telstra BigPond Wireless Broadband.

Hannibal used to love it when a plan came together…

Right. Some stuff on the page sorted out, including the “About Me” pages for those wanting freelance writing. You did want freelance writing, didn’t you?

Now, all I have to sort out is moving the pages links up somehow to promote that, get rid of the car in the tunnel (I’m sure there’s something symbolic there) and sort out stuff like emailing. ‘Tis tres confusant, as the French might say (if they were drunk, which fits the odds), but I’m sure I’ll get there in the end.