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All 246 Posts in the Category: Consumer Electronics

27
Mar 13
Wed

Pretty awesome customer support

I bought the iPhone 5 soon after its release and promptly dropped it down three flights of stairs. We occupy the 4th and 5th floor of our building at work, and a concrete stairwell that doubles as a fire escape connects the floors together. One day I was hurrying up the stairs and my foot caught on a step, causing me to stumble. My brand new iPhone, which I normally keep in my jeans, happened to be in my hoodie pocket at the time. It flew out, found the gap between two steps and hit the flight of stairs below. *tink* It bounced off the wall and continued its descent down another two flights. *tink* *tink-tink* *tink* *tink-tink-tink* I raced after it, feeling a sick to my stomach. Amazingly, the phone had escaped with only a gash on its bezel and a small fragment chipped off the front glass plate – but nothing in the viewing area.

Fast forward about 5 months. My phone every couple of days would stop detecting the SIM card. I’d be using it and suddenly a dialog box would pop up warning that there was no SIM installed. The card holder was secure, and rebooting the phone would get it working again for a couple more days, so it was a weird problem.

I took the phone into the Apple store tonight and got it looked at by one of the blue-shirted dudes at the Genius Bar. He disappeared into the back room to test my phone. He then re-emerged saying that the sim reader might be faulty and they normally wouldn’t cover it because of the “major dings” it had received (located near the sim card slot), but they were going to give me a free replacement anyway. Which they did, on the spot. And with that, I had a brand new phone. Amazing customer support, and it doesn’t make me regret that I have perhaps more than a few Apple devices in my house (8).

  11:29pm  •  Consumer Electronics  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
9
Oct 12
Tue

iPhone 5 physical impressions

The iPhone 5 is noticeably lighter and thinner, which is normally a good way to move for technology. But, to me it feels a little off:

  • The brushed metal back feels like plastic. I liked the smooth but not-too-smooth glass backing.
  • The phone’s weight actually makes it feel plasticky and kind of… cheap. The 4 had some heft behind it, and it was a good sort of heft. Like a metal credit card.
  • The whole thing is black. Everything. So when it’s lying on a dark colored table, or in a dimly lit room, it’s camouflaged. That’s not a good thing. I miss the silver metal rim of the 4. I should’ve bought the white one.
  • The screen is a little too long for my fingers. I find myself wiggling by hand up and down the phone to reach for buttons on the side.
  • The lock button at the top now doesn’t have a lot of travel, and it’s slightly harder to press.

Maybe it will grow on me, but I suspect not. Yes, #firstworldproblems.

I also have a ton of bitching I could do about AT&T and would’ve moved to Verizon had I not still had one of those grandfathered unlimited data plans from the 3G days. Biggest gripe is that I simply don’t understand why they don’t unlock phones that are on contract. You still gotta pay them each month, why do they care? So they can eke out a little bit of money if you decide to use international roaming?

  11:16pm  •  Consumer Electronics  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
5
Oct 10
Tue

3D movies are messing with your depth perception

Apparently when you watch a 3D movie with those annoying glasses (people like me, have to sit for a couple hours ridiculously wearing two pairs of glasses at the same time), the experience messes with your depth perception, leading to a condition called “binocular dysphoria”. Mark Pesce, who did virtual reality development work for Sega in the 90s writes about this phenomenon:

Virtual reality headsets use the same technique for displaying 3D as we find in movies or 3D television sets – parallax. They project a slightly different image to each one of your eyes, and from that difference, your brain creates the illusion of depth. That sounds fine, until you realize just how complicated human depth perception really is. The Wikipedia entry on depth perception (an excellent read) lists ten different cues that your brain uses to figure out exactly how far away something is. Parallax is just one of them. Since the various movie and television display technologies only offer parallax-based depth cues, your brain basically has to ignore several other cues while you’re immersed in the world of Avatar. This is why the 3D of films doesn’t feel quite right. Basically, you’re fighting with your own brain, which is getting a bit confused. It’s got some cues to give it a sense of depth, but it’s missing others. Eventually your brain just starts ignoring the other cues.

That’s the problem. When the movie’s over, and you take your glasses off, your brain is still ignoring all those depth perception cues. It’ll come back to normal, eventually. Some people will snap right back. In others, it might take a few hours. This condition, known as ‘binocular dysphoria’, is the price you pay for cheating your brain into believing the illusion of 3D. Until someone invents some other form of 3D projection (many have tried, no one has really succeeded), binocular dysphoria will be part of the experience.

The problem isn’t so much 3D movies, though. It’s when the leap comes to 3D TVs and 3D computer games. Pesce postulates that the hours that kids could spend in front of a 3D display might, alarmingly, ruin depth perception… permanently. I don’t know if there is any medical basis for Pesce’s article, but it sounds plausible (but don’t all urban legends sound plausible?).

  1:13am  •  Consumer Electronics  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
24
Apr 10
Sat

Macbook Pro 15″ mini-review

I picked up a new 15″ Macbook Pro with the i7 chip a couple of days ago, upgrading from my current early-2008 model. The new model is a slick piece of machinery. The design hasn’t changed from the immediately preceding model, but the innards have been refreshed.

This thing is blazing fast, and I haven’t had any compatibility problems even though I run Windows 7 on it. There’s now even driver support for a right-mouse click, so the only-one-mouse-button problem is a thing of the past (the driver designates the lower right of the trackpad as a right mouse-button).

The only real gripe I have with this is the placement of the ports. All the ports are now crammed on to the left side of the chassis. The problem is that they’re too close together. If you stick a flash drive into a USB port, most of them will end up blocking the other port, and you lose it. Having the ports on the left is also problematic for connecting a corded USB laptop mouse – the cord has to stretch around the back of the machine for right-handers like me, and those cords aren’t long enough. My flatmate, who used to work in Sony’s laptop division, tells me that stacking the ports like that means that Apple only has to contend with putting one controller board in the chassis instead of splitting it up to the opposite sides, which saves on costs. But I wouldn’t have expected Apple to sacrifice cost for design.

Nonetheless, the unibody design is awesome. The thing feels pretty solid and reliable. My flatmate actually dropped his MBP on its rear left corner, near the power connected. The case dented pretty badly, but everything was still working, so it’s pretty durable.

The magsafe connector has been redesigned. The cord now emerges parallel to the chassis, instead of spouting straight out. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but now I think it actually makes sense.

The machine faintly vibrates when I rest my palms on the chassis, whereas my previous model didn’t. This is either because of the 7200rpm hard disk, or increased cooling – this model definitely runs cooler than my old one.

One last note – the hi-res screen is quite nice and sharp, but it also means that some stuff is starting to get a little too small to read comfortably.

Overall, an excellent product. If you use your computer a lot, paying the Apple tax for something like this is a good investment.

  1:40pm  •  Computing  •  Consumer Electronics  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
15
Apr 10
Thu

Gizmodo’s Apple iPad Review

Written in a “Day in the Life” style, Gizmodo’s review:

News is like coffee to me. To wake up, every morning I hit snooze twice and on the third beep I kill the alarm and lie in bed checking email. Monday morning, I did the same on the iPad. Reading emails was far easier with everything laid out on two columns and with all that extra screen space. But my threshold for replying to notes was not improved. The keyboard does not feel natural, and this is not an input machine. I flagged those emails as things I'd have to revisit at my laptop, on my iPad with an external keyboard, or maybe even the iPhone, which I'm so used to that even the smaller layout seems better.

Very much a luxury lifestyle device.

  12:36am  •  Consumer Electronics  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
27
Jan 10
Wed

iPad impressions

At the risk of adding to what’s already been said on the net all day today, I join the crowd which is thinking, “Is that it?”

To be sure, the iPad is a very nice product. But, for all the incredible publicity the device received over the last several months, the expectation was set that the device wouldn’t just be “very nice” – that was a given – but it would be “magical and revolutionary”, as Apple’s own advertising copy trumpets. That it would be a game changer. It’s not a game changer. Therein lies the disappointment.

The iPad is a luxury device. It’s the middle-class family’s replacement for the Sunday morning paper at the dining table; the magazine on the coffee table next to your soy latté; the paperback novel next to the toilet; the remote control for the 60″ LCD TV; the photo album you hand over to friends when they come over after you get back from your trip to the Caymans; and the laptop you sit up in bed with, browsing through Facebook. It’s something you can chill out with on the couch, in front of the fireplace, by the poolside, standing in a queue, or sitting on a plane. Or of course in a big comfy armchair like the one Steve Jobs plonked himself in today.

"My precious!"

But it’s not a killer app. It’s not a must-have, in the same way that a computer, or a mobile phone is a must-have. It’s kind of like the Macbook Air. Neat in theory and if you have some spare cash, but ultimately a luxury.

The iPad is essentially an iPhone with a 10″ screen.  Without a camera, it doesn’t even have all the features an iPhone has (and you obviously can’t use it like a phone by holding it up to your ear).

A market killer?
Despite a claimed 10 hour movie-playing and 1 month standby battery life, this device was never truly going to compete with the Kindles and the Nooks. The color screen will be difficult to read outdoors, and be harsher on the eyes than e-ink is over long periods. I haven’t read this anywhere, but as is usual for Apple, I doubt the battery is replaceable. Over time, the battery life will degrade, and that will hamper the utility of the iPad for battery-intensive applications (my 18-month old Macbook Pro now barely gets 75 minutes on a full charge, down from 4 hours when new, and my 18-month old iPhone 3G needs to be charged daily if it’s used even a little bit during the day).

I doubt it will destroy the netbook market either. The iPad can’t at the moment handle Microsoft documents, which is what most of the working world uses. So it’s not so good for professionals who need mobility, but also something which runs a normal O/S. And as good as the on-screen keyboard may be, nothing beats the tactile feel of a real keyboard, even if it’s not full-sized. (What happened to those rumors of haptic feedback?) However, it might be good for a backpacker, or a transcontinental bicyclist, who wants something slim and light, with near-universal net connectivity.

Apple’s stock trended down during the iPad announcement, until the price was announced. The stock shot up, mainly because – as I’ve written before – the market expected a price range of $600-1000, and the price beat market expectations. Stock price is all about expectations. However, $500 is for the entry model, and $500 is still expensive when I can get a decent netbook for half that price. Add 3G and a bit of flash memory and you’re looking at something within sniffing distance of a Macbook.

People have been disappointed at the lack of features: no multitasking, no built-in SD card slot (you’ll need to buy Apple’s overpriced proprietary adapters for that), no camera, no Flash support (although Adobe says it will happen) and so on. Also, the relationship between Apple and AT&T appears to have solidified, rather than to have dissolved as was widely rumored. A $30 unlimited data plan is quite good though, given it provides universal net access. (If it permitted internet tethering, that would be a big drawcard for it, but as we know, AT&T outrageously doesn’t support tethering.) On the other hand, the iPhone SDK now allows apps to make voice calls over 3G, and not just WiFi, so we’re seeing a change now. Should at least take some of the heat off them as far as the FTC is concerned.

What about the name?
It’s pretty blah, and very similar to iPod. But we’ll get used to it. More interestingly (for lawyers at least), is the IP strategy that Apple used in connection with the iPad. It appears to own no iPad domain names – which implies to me that Apple regarded name secrecy was more important to it than IP protection. They don’t yet have a registered trademark for iPad, but they’re probably in the process of obtaining one. A search on the PTO’s website shows that the IPAD word mark has been registered in a variety of other classes, including class 25 (clothing) under a US subcategory including “Bras, Lingerie, Panties, Pads for Use in Bras”. So I guess the joke about MaxiPads isn’t that far off.

Speaking of MaxiPads, the iPad’s looks are questionable as well – the bezel is too big, and the 4:3 non-widescreen ratio makes it look squat. That said, I still think the iPad will be extremely fun to use and the UI is more than just simply pleasant.

Not that it won’t do well…
Let me get this clear: I will be surprised if the iPad flops. The device is sure to sell very well, and add another healthy channel of revenue for Apple. It just won’t be as important as the iPhone. However, I do have the feeling that we will see some very creative apps developed for the iPad that will make it a much more useful, cool, and valuable tool than a lot of people give it credit for today.

Paired with iTunes, iBooks, and other applications that content providers will eventually create, it will also be a great media library device (although there’s no video output jack).

Ok, so my overall verdict? If someone bought me one as a gift, I’d be over the moon. But I’d find it difficult to swallow the price and fork out $850+ (with 3G data) of my own to buy the top of the line model, whereas I didn’t hesitate to shell out for the iPhone, or even the high-end Macbook Pro.  (I wonder if this means that Macbooks will start to get equipped with A-GPS or 3G capabilities? My guess is that although Apple could go this way, it won’t because it might cannibalize its iPad market.)

  9:58pm  •  Consumer Electronics  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

Apple event – summary

Will compile a summary of the main points from the liveblogs, as it develops.

  • iPad
    • 9.7″ tablet, 0.5″ thick, 1.5 pounds (less then 700g)
    • multitouch,1GHz Apple A4 chip
    • 16-64 gigs flash storage
    • 802.11n, bluetooth 2.1 + edr
    • runs iPhone apps, but also has a separate set of iPad apps
    • speaker, microphone, accelerometer, compass
    • 10 hour battery life (playing videos)
    • Kinda sounds like a big iPhone
  10:02am  •  Consumer Electronics  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
24
Jan 10
Sun

Apple’s week ahead

Big week ahead for Apple. Tomorrow (1.30pm PST) it announces its Q4 2009 (fiscal Q1 2010) financials. The effect of earnings announcements on stock prices is all about market expectations. It seems that Apple is typically conservative when issuing profit guidance (or perhaps more accurately, infamous for low-balling). Analysts caught on long ago and have adjusted their expectations accordingly, but it will be interesting to see how well Apple actually did.

Here is an interesting article about Apple’s price movements at market close last Friday, and an even more interesting one on shorting of Apple stock.

On Wednesday, Apple is expected to release its tablet. Analysts have forecasted a tablet product could add several billion dollars to their top line. People will be looking at pricing point of the tablet and what it actually does on Wednesday (10.00am PST), but the bar set pretty high. Let’s hope it doesn’t cost $1000.

Apple needs to pull something out of the bag with this one. People are expecting a larger, cooler iPod – all the rumored features are nice and modern, but not revolutionary. The iPhone already does a lot. It needs to be more than an iPhone with a bigger screen.

Perhaps they are focusing more tying lots of licensed content into it, since it seems to be a media device that is aimed at tackling the Kindle market (and more), and that will enable them to do really cool stuff – a universal media library. Perhaps they have a new UI. Perhaps will be able to sense certain proximate devices like Microsoft Surface.

I expect to be able to use the tablet as a universal remote, as a substitute for the morning newspaper, watching  TV on the go, an exercise book in meetings. I expect to be able to hang the thing on a wall and hook it up to something which reports real-time information (like Seesmic Look, a Flickr feed, or a stock ticker). I expect to be able to use it for even cooler augmented reality applications (especially games!).

21
Dec 09
Mon

DealExtreme

The USB cable for my iPhone is starting to break at the point where the USB connector attaches to the wire. I could pay Apple $19 to get a replacement, or I could find a third party reseller and pay $3 + shipping. Or I could go to DealExtreme and get it for the all-in price of under $2.

DealExtreme is an electronics retailer based in Hong Kong that sells a lot of mostly computer-related electronics. They don’t really sell major components or whole computers like a company like Newegg does, but they’re well known for selling gizmos like memory card converters and readers, USB hubs and peripherals, cables, LED flashlights, and so on… which are all made in China by companies you’ve never heard of. Remarkably, they don’t charge for international shipping. This sounds kind of dodgy, and even though I was referred to this site personally by an acquaintance, I still felt the need to do some due diligence on the net to satisfy myself that they were legit. They must need to move a tremendous volume of goods to stay in the black.

  10:30am  •  Consumer Electronics  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
31
Mar 09
Tue

Skype for iPhone

Skype for iPhone has finally been released. It only works over wifi and not 3G, but at least this campus is nicely wired up with wifi :). It’s a very well designed app.

10
Jul 08
Thu

iPhone plans

Ok, several days ago I said that Optus’ iPhone 3G plans weren’t too bad. I find it incomprehensible why, given that the iPhone is launching tomorrow, Vodafone and Telstra waited until today to release their plans. To me it seems like terrible organisational skills – it’s not as if the iPhone is a secret – the release date has been known for weeks. And not only have they given their customers less than 24 hours’ lead time to review and digest their gratuitously complex plans, the plans themselves are pure crap. They are horrendous! For example, everyone thought Vodafone was holding out on an announcement so it could undercut Optus – but Optus’ plans turn out to be the best ones. Miniscule data limits really don’t do much for Australia in terms of IT innovation. One of Telstra’s not-cheap plans offers 5MB free data. Five megabytes? What the hell? That’s the perennial problem with technology that relies on telcos in Australia – accessing the infrastructure is just too damn expensive (just look at broadband and internet hosting costs). I’m going to have to wait until I get to the States before I buy my iPhone.

30
Jun 08
Mon

iPhone pricing

Telstra has come to the party and will also be releasing the iPhone on July 11. Unlike Vodafone and Optus, Telstra has also released its pricing plans. Contracts are for 2 years (pretty standard) and a $30/mo plan will allow you to pay $279 for the 8 gig model and $399 for 16 gig model. There’s no upfront cost if you go on a $100/mo plan. You won’t be able to buy an iPhone from Telstra without a plan.

Vodafone and Optus are taking pre-registrations too, but have not released pricing. It’s rumoured that you’ll be able to buy a phone outright (and get prepaid services), but this may be costly. It’s not clear, if this is the case, whether the phones will be unlocked.

No word from anyone about how much data is going to cost. I have a feeling it’s not going to be pretty. In Canada, a bit of consumer backlash occurred when local carrier Rogers released pricing for its plans. C$60/mo only buys 400mb of data. (US$70/mo buys unlimited data in the US.) It’s going to be even uglier in Australia, I reckon.

“Telstra consumer group managing director David Moffatt said it was an exciting development for the Australian mobile phone market…”. But remember that only a year ago, newspapers were reporting that “Telstra has all but ruled itself out of the running to carry Apple’s new iPhone mobile when it is released here next year with a senior executive launching a withering critique of the device. … There’s an old saying – stick to your knitting – and Apple is not a mobile phone manufacturer, that’s not their knitting,’ Mr Winn told AAP.”

28
Jun 08
Sat

Diablo 3

Blizzard has just announced Diablo III!

19
Jun 08
Thu

Apple Store opening

Finally made it inside the Apple store. And it only took 80 minutes of waiting. In the rain. Still, I got my t-shirt, which I reckon ought to say, “I stood in line for the Apple store opening and all I got was this stupid t-shirt”. (Someone has to have made that joke somewhere before…)

I turned up at about a quarter to five to find a ludicrously long line stretching a little up bit George St, then around the corner to King St, and then all the way down York. Allll the way. At about five, the store’s 120-something staff were all standing from the balconies waving. There’s a “welcoming gauntlet” of sorts when you get in… about 20 staff handing out t-shirts and perpetually cheering on customers and high-fiving them as they go past. They’ve been doing that for over an hour and will be doing that for at least another 3. I guess you really gotta have a lot of energy to be an Apple customer service rep.

It’s a pretty darn schmick store. Having an Apple store in a city is probably a de facto pre-req for being an “Alpha city” on the Global City developmental scale. I stupidly didn’t bring a camera but there is probably already a flood of photos being uploaded to Flickr & co as I type. After all, there are quite a lot of computers across the three levels of this building all connected to net…

They’re still cheering. It sounds like banshees wailing…

9
Jun 08
Mon

3G iPhone release imminent

iPhone 3G release in about 2.5 hours highly likely… MacRumors has live coverage of WWDC, which kicks off at 10am (PDT) with Jobs’ keynote. Carriers around the world have been busily signing and announcing distribution contracts with Apple, so I predict that there will be a worldwide simultaneous release of these things. I don’t think Australia will have to wait for the Sydney Apple store to open on June 19 before Aussies can start ordering iPhones. However, there are some people who think otherwise about the Australian release date.

My feature set prediction: 3G (obviously), assisted GPS and a modified case design. I’m doubtful about a front-facing camera. There may be multiple iPhone models. Carriers to offer plans bundled with subsidised phones. The problem in Australia is getting affordable data service… there’s no way we’re getting an unlimited data plan for $60/month like AT&T offers in the US.

25
Mar 08
Tue

MP3 quality hearing test

This site plays two mp3 clips – one at 128kbps and the other at 320kbps – and gets you to pick which one is which (the 320kbps is less compressed and therefore should sound better in theory). Probably not the best clip to be testing it on, though. If memory serves, MP3 compression works by shaving off extraneous frequencies we can’t hear (ie around and past the 20Hz and 20kHz regions) – but although we can’t hear lower frequencies, we can feel them, so compression is most noticeable in music with a lot of bass. Also, I have never rated the double blind test – 50/50 odds are too good. I think the “triple blind” test is better – 3 samples, 2 of them played at either 128kbps or 320kbps – and you have to pick the odd one out. This is how the Pepsi/Coke taste test should be run.

26
Jun 07
Tue

iPhone

The iPhone comes out this week. If you don’t know what the hype’s about, you really need to watch this guided tour.

31
Mar 06
Fri

Apple’s 30th

Apple’s 30th anniversary is today. I wonder if they’re going to be releasing anything new. Ever since I figured out that the bus ride back from work is almost exactly 40 minutes, ie the length of a television episode, I’ve been thinking of getting a video iPod. However, the main thing that’s been making me hold off is that there have been rumours of a new large-screen video iPod with Bluetooth capability. Unfortunately, given that the usual rumour mills have been devoid of any mention of this recently, it doesn’t look like it’ll be here soon, let alone for Apple’s 30th birthday.

17
May 05
Tue

Meanwhile…

Hello?
12.00am, 19 May 2005
Ironforge Auction House

10
May 05
Tue

Tales from the Dungeon II

My uncle, cousin, and dad (incredibly) now all play World of Warcraft. My uncle’s a doctor with his own practice, and he plays it during work. He sits in the auction house and bids on stuff in between seeing patients. He’s made several hundred gold from doing that. Then he started up a rogue as an alt and quests during the day. When a patient comes in to see him, he stealths, alt-tabs to the relevant medical software, attends to the patient, then switches straight back to slaughtering lives as opposed to saving them.

My flatmate’s WoW addiction hijinks continue. He is hellbent on equipping his character with as much virtual bling as possible from the auction house. He terms this his “blue fetish” (blue coloured items denote rare items in the game). There was one blue helm he was particularly intent on getting that he discovered being auctioned off at 1am. At that time, the auction was marked as being of “Long” duration, which means there is anywhere from 2 to 8 hours left to bid on the item. So, bearing in mind he had uni at 9am, he took a punt and set his alarm clock for 5am so he could monitor the price. Four hours of sleep later, he managed to wake up and drag himself to the computer. The auction was still on foot, but still marked as “Long” duration. So he slept for another hour and woke up again. The auction had changed to “Medium” duration (from 30 minutes to 2 hours left) and the price was still a bargain. Dreary eyed, he set his alarm clock to wake him up in 25 minute blocks, until the auction turned “Short” (less than 30 minutes). After three 25 minute sleep-wake cycles, something happened. He miscalculated something along the line, for when he re-awoke for the sixth time that morning, the item was gone. The auction was over. The item had been sold.

The worst story of WoW addiction I’ve heard is when my cousin went with a friend to go skiing in Whistler last holidays. My cousin’s friend decided to bring along a computer. I’m not talking about a laptop here, but a full computer – tower case, 19″ monitor, keyboard, the works. When they got to Canada, he (the friend) spent a whole day trying to get his computer to work (the power supply was having problems with the different voltages). A day was wasted with no result, so he decided to take off in the evening to a net cafe to get his WoW fix. Not a word was heard from him until he got back the next day at 3… PM. To make matters worse, it turns out that the friend was meant to have arranged accommodation at the ski fields, but upon arriving in Canada that arrangement had fallen through because something hadn’t been done. So my cousin spent the time searching for alternatives. The following day they had a 7am bus to catch to the actual ski fields/accommodation. The friend, slumbering after another session of WoW, was unwilling/incapable of waking up on time, so my cousin, now thoroughly infuriated, took off to go skiing without him. It is still unknown whether the friend (a friend no longer, obviously) made it to the ski fields.

There you have it. Warcraft addiction Ruins Lives. I can’t wait till I hit level 60.

10
Mar 05
Thu

Tales from the Dungeon

My flatmate just staggered into my room, hair unkempt, face haggard, eyes bloodshot, hands trembling and looking clearly disorientated. He paused for a moment, trying to gain his bearings. “Do you know what time I played Warcraft last night??”

Turns out he had signed up to do the Vancleef Quest and his party of 5 were seriously out of their depth for it. It took them over 3 hours and countless deaths before they finally staggered out of the instance dungeon, battered and weary, at 8am. Dave was also doing the quest with a friend who was also in Sydney, and when they were walking along a narrow bridge, his friend fell asleep at the keyboard, resulting in his character running off the bridge and falling into the water below.

4
Mar 05
Fri

World of Warcraft

Bloody addictive game. I’m playing two main characters: Apek on Shadowsong, Taedar on Blackhand. I’ve you’ve got a character in either of those realms, drop me a line.

2
Mar 05
Wed

Quote of the Night

Every Tuesday evening, a group of 6-10 of us gather for a few games of DoTA. The majority of us happen to be lawyers. At one point in the game last night, Jack turned around to the rest of the team and frantically asked:

“The left corridor is getting raped! Does anyone have capacity?

We stopped playing and just stared at him for a few seconds. (For the non-lawyers, “Do you have capacity?” is the much maligned phrasing used when lawyers stick their heads into your office and want to give you work…)

23
Nov 04
Tue

Half-Life 2 Again

I finished HL2. It offered me about 20 hours worth of gameplay. The game engine and game world are amazing. Just about everything is interactive and some of the scripted sequences are really creative. The way characters interact with you is terrific – facial expressions, turning to look directly at you, gesticulations, everything. The only weakness of the game, and this is pretty common from what I gather, is the plot. The first HL had an excellent overarching storyline, but HL2 doesn’t immerse you as much in the plot. You don’t really get to hear much about City 17 or what happened in the years between HL or HL2. For the first half of the game it just seems as if you’re being asked to move from place to place before you’ll get an explanation – an explanation which never really comes because people keep getting kidnapped. By the time the ending comes, you don’t even have enough information to make any speculations about things such as who G-Man is, who the Benefactors are and so on.

HL definitely was richer in terms of story ideas – alien worlds, big bosses, exotic weapons and bizarre monsters. HL2 is much more standard in comparison and things really only get interesting in the last chapter. But don’t get me wrong, the “standard world” of HL2 is incredible – a city that looks like how you’d imagine the old eastern European communist countries were like, a ghost town, etc. They need to release an expansion pack which does a proper plot, now that they’ve produced a kickass FPS engine.

21
Nov 04
Sun

Half-Life 2

Waiting for it to install… the installation for this game really bites. Takes forever!

19
Jul 04
Mon

New iPod now on sale

Hot damn. The new revision of the 40GB iPod is only $650. $584.10 for students. With free laser engraving till the end of September. I am incredibly tempted to buy one, though I’m still a little concerned about the unreplaceable battery the iPod has. (It costs US$100 to replace a battery. The battery is rated for 400 charge cycles before it starts to charge to less than 80% of capacity. That’s about 18 months with regular use.)

14
Jul 04
Wed

Nokia Lifeblog Beta Out

Nokia has released v0.95 of their Lifeblog software. Nice idea. I’d moblog more often if it didn’t cost me 75 cents for each frigging picture I sent out.

12
May 04
Wed

E3

E3 opened yesterday in the States. Lots expected. Fuzzy’ll probably put up all the interesting links. (Happy Birthday btw!)

29
Apr 04
Thu

Feeding Gadgetlust

Gizmo is an Aussie version of Gizmodo.

13
Apr 04
Tue

And there was much ownage

Apparently the 4 gig Muvo2 arrived in from the States today. It arrived in Camden and is with Dad so I have to go back to disassemble and extract the microdrive from it. Mmm, 4gb goodness for my digicam. That’s like, around 1200 photos.

The Nokia 6600′s camera owns my crappy T610′s camera. Alcohol also owns Dave and Aris, but I’m sure I’ll hear more stories when he gets back from Melbourne. Last time they ended up halfway to South Australia after trying to, uh, save money.

ADSL provisioning is meant to be completed today, but knowing Telstra, it might still take a couple more days before the line goes live.

15
Feb 04
Sun

I suck at Rise of Nations

There’s a stage in learning every RTS where you go up against another human and come out with a second asshole and thinking, "How the hell did they get so many resources, tech up, build cities and go to war so damn quickly?" I am currently at that stage.

3
Feb 04
Tue

Gunbound

Gunbound is similar to Worms and is played completely online. It’s been developed by a bunch of Koreans, so once you get past the badly phrased english, it’s pretty decent. Download it. If you have an account and play, leave me a note with your username (mine is inferno04) so I can add you to the buddy list and we’ll see if we can have a game. This includes you, ambrosis and your $30 clothes of doom.

1
Feb 04
Sun

Digicam Info

Found a few informative links related to digital photography. This first article explains why when you affix a standard lens to a DSLR the focal length (zoom) changes and is given as an “equivalent” millimetre rating.

The second article, which is fairly technical, attempts to compare relative image quality between digital media and traditional film media. Interestingly, an 11mp camera like the Canon 1Ds will output photos of a quality that marginally exceeds standard 35mm film. This means that all the benefits of film cameras are slowly being eroded away. Once the price for processing digital images falls to a level comparable to processing rolls of film (it’s still always nicer to have photos you can physically handle), film cameras will really start to wane.

DOFMaster is a program that prints out “circles of confusion”. The circles give you the range that will be in focus (the depth of field) given a certain aperture and focal length.

10
Nov 03
Mon

Warcraft II Preservation Site

I got a nice surprise when Friel from the old and venerable OzWL league and Kali days dropped me an e-mail to tell me about his Warcraft II preservation page. Ahhh, brings back so many good memories of clan wars and all. Up the mighty Deathwind Clan!

9
Nov 03
Sun

Nice Clock

Now this would make an awesome timepiece to hang on the wall. Too bad about the price.

While we’re on the topic, the same company has a program called World Watch which simulates the expensive wallclock on the computer. I also know of Geoclock, but that still is a 16-bit program. Does anyone know of any other clock programs that show a map of the world and what parts of the world are in darkness? If it can be used as a screensaver as well, all the better. (Drop URLs in the comments.)

3
Nov 03
Mon

Bluejacking and Stealth Disco

Do you have a bluetooth enabled mobile? Are there bluetooth enabled devices inadvertently (or otherwise) set in “discoverable” mode? Send it a contact named “Nice shoes!” and watch its recipient look bewildered. This new practice has been termed Bluejacking, although I think that Bluepranking would be more apt. It’s things like this that give people like me endless entertainment. {src: Cacheop, which also links the classic Stealth Disco}

1
Oct 03
Wed

We find the prisoner guilty of the theft of a Long Sword +3

There’s such thing as intangible property, sure, but this is ridiculous. Some gamers want to be able to prosecute people for mugging/swindling/killing them in MMORPG worlds. The brunt of these claims comes from, surprise surprise, the game crazy nation of South Korea: “The police in South Korea – a country as mad about gaming as the UK is about football – report that of the 40,000 or so cybercrimes reported in the first six months of 2003, more than half (22,000) had something to do with online gaming.” Read BBC Article. Amusing, but also disturbing.

And for no particular reason, here’s a map to Mordor.

25
Sep 03
Thu

Widgets et Cetera

Nokia’s design department has gone crazy again: They’ve announced the 7600 which is unorthodox looking, to say the least. They’ve also got digital pendants, which knowing the fickleness of fashion trends, I refrain from commenting on. They also have digital photo frames which are cool but no doubt cost an arm and a leg. I think Sony started selling them a couple years ago for a few thousand dollars, but I’m not sure if the price would have come down to affordable levels since then.

Salton’s programmable coffee maker can be programmed through a web browser to have a pot of steaming brew ready by the time you plod, bleary-eyed, into the kitchen each morning.

AMD has finally released its 64-bit CPU goodness. The next computer I own will, in all probability, be 64-bit.

I’ve been told to read Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, and I think I will after reading in Time Mag about his 3000-page Baroque Cycle trilogy which merges science and history in a long semi-fictional narrative. The Baroque Cycle is a “continuation” of sorts on Cryptonomicon. Whoever said science and art were so different?

13
Sep 03
Sat

Interactive Floating Displays and 3D LCDs

IO2 Technology has released HelioDisplay, a device which projects a 2D image into mid-air. Not only this, but a user can manipulate the image by sticking his or her fingers into it, Minority Report style. The image projected can be viewed from both sides, and the image’s translucency can be adjusted. It’s like a video projector, without the screen. Manipulating stuff “on screen” will be weird without tactile feedback, but think of the coolness factor!

Sharp in Japan is also releasing a laptop with a 3D LCD display. I read something about this a little while ago while it was still a prototype, but here it is on the market (albeit only in Japan). It doesn’t require special glasses (which filter out light so a different image goes to each eye), but employs another method to somehow trick each of our eyes into seeing separate images, which, slightly offset, give the impression of depth.

11
Sep 03
Thu

Stair and Truck Dismount

This is somewhat old, but these two games: Truck Dismount and Stair Dismount will keep you occupied for hours. Try to inflict maximum damage on a rag-doll by pushing them down some stairs in Stair Dismount, and secondly driving them into a wall in Truck Dismount. Almost broken 70000 points in Stair Dismount, but can’t figure out how to get that extra little bit of head injury…

29
Aug 03
Fri

Roomba

Heh, I would love one of these… Roomba is an automated vacuum cleaner. They came out a while ago, but recently announced a couple newer models to their line. Hell, I’d be “vacuuming” every second day with one of these things, just for the novelty of it haha! Alas, they’re not available in Australia.

18
Aug 03
Mon

SE T610 and Gizmodo

Gizmodo is a good site for those who, like me, have gadgetlust. Incidentally I bought a Sony-Ericsson T610 a couple weeks ago.

It’s reminded me that I should follow my own advice and stick with Nokias. However, it’s slowly grown on me. The T610 has a bristling feature set, which was its main selling point for me. The screen is large and quite vibrant, and although some have complained the phone is virtually unusable in direct sunlight, I can’t agree. The display fades in sunlight, as does any colour LCD, but it is still visible. The clock that pops up after a few seconds of inactivity, however, is worthless due to it being too dim to make out in just about all lighting conditions. The call reception quality is a small notch down from the Nokias, but for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t make that big a difference unless you’re out in the bush. However, one gripe is that the SE doesn’t have a loudspeaker. The volume of phone calls is fine when turned up to the max, but I have come to rely on my mobile as an alarm clock, and my old 6210 had an amazingly loud alarm. I don’t much care for polyphonic ring tones (the T610 can play 32 sounds simultaneously) and was a little annoyed to discover there were no simple “ring ring” alarm or ring tones. When it comes to ringing, I’m very much a pragmatist – my only requirement is that I have to hear it. The camera takes decent photos for what’s expected of a mobile phone camera. There’s Bluetooth, GPRS, WAP, e-mail checking and all the connectivity I wanted on a phone. Unfortunately data rates are 2c per kB ($20/MB), and data charges are in addition to any unused call credits you have on your plan so it must be used sparingly. MMSes (pictorial equivalent of SMSes) are 75c each, which is not cheap either. The phone is a nice size, with a simple attractive minimalist design. Some would say it’s boring, but when Nokia keeps bringing out phones with weirder and weirder designs, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Battery life is heavily affected by phone usage, the average charge for me lasting up to 5-6 days, which is not stunning, but sufficient.

What lets this phone down the most is its usability. It is pretty awful, compared to Nokia’s time-honoured user interface. It’s just not logical, is really fiddly, and requires too many clicks to do simple things. Simple things such as setting up speed dial, and even sending SMSes takes far too many clicks. The joystick is a bit annoying too in that sometimes it clicks in when you mean to move it down or up, and sometimes it moves down or up when you click in. If you’re upgrading to this phone from a Nokia, it’ll be frustrating, not because you have to retrain yourself, but because some of the ways Sony-Ericsson makes you do things are just plain cumbersome and illogical. One example off the top of my head is that there is ample screen space on the default screen. When you enable an alarm, it displays the alarm time in the place of the date. Therefore, when you set an alarm, you no longer can see the date, even though there’s about 8 square centimetres spare where they could have placed the alarm time instead. Another flaw is that it doesn’t display the time of missed calls, if they were missed before midnight of the same day. The phone definitely needs more than the 2mb of memory it has, as well. I would have bought the Nokia 7250i, but alas it has no Bluetooth.

6
Aug 03
Wed

Real Life

GameSpot reviews Real Life. (Yes, that’s real life as in real life… er… just read the review :)

11
May 03
Sun

Sony Ericsson T610

The Sony Ericcson T610 is the mobile phone I’ve been waiting for. It has everything, except that it’s not a Nokia.

30
Apr 03
Wed

MP3 Goodness

That does it. I don’t care that it’s expensive, I’m sure it’s worth every cent. I’m going to start saving up for the new iPod. 30GB storage (doubles as a portable hard drive), full Windows compatibility, incredible size at 176g, alarm clock function, games, calendar, text storage, touch-sensitive buttons so no more moving parts, over 8 hour rechargeable battery life, Firewire and USB 2 connections. Excuse me, have to wipe the drool off my keyboard.

Escape from Woomera

New computer game pisses off Philip Ruddock. Rest of country amused.

16
Apr 03
Wed

3 Australia

3G services launched in Australia (well, two cities in Australia) with the arrival of Orange’s “3 Australia“. From a cursory look at what it offers, I’ve formed an opinion (that may not be all that well informed) that this new technology seems to be already plagued by two major problems that will impede its diffusion and adoption. One of the major marketing pushes of 3G networks is the ability to make video phone calls. Technology for the “modern” videophone has been around 1964, but practical considerations and lack of demand have not seen them become a common household object. Video conferencing is only starting to gain acceptance and use in the corporate world. However, I cannot see how video calls on mobile phones can be a major driver in the adoption of 3G technologies, apart from the initial gadget “wow” factor, which is in turn offset by the current affordability of 3G which I’ll look at in a moment. In terms of benefits of video calls, the ability to see someone while conversing implies a richer communications medium, due to the additional non-verbal cues of body language and facial expression and so on. When you are speaking to someone on a one or two inch screen, how much richer is that communication honestly going to be? Is it a novelty or truly useful? Add to this the inconvenience of having to look at who you are talking to whilst on the mobile, and you’ll not be so mobile if you want to talk on the run. Naturally you can choose to fall back to normal voice-only calls, but arguably you’d be doing that a fair bit, which defeats the purpose of video calls being a “main driver” for 3G technology adoption. Furthermore, there’s the social factor of not only you being able to see who you’re speaking to, but everyone else seeing who you’re speaking to, which can lead to reluctance to use this technology in public. Hence, usage is further reduced. Perhaps this will be something people get over as time allows society to adjust (in much the same way that mobile phones are commonplace, and PDAs are not beginning to raise as many eyebrows on public transport as they used to). Societal reaction will play a large part in all of this.

You may be whining about broadband caps now, but when Telstra Big Pond first arrived with cable about 5 years ago, access costs were $50 for the first 100MB and 17c per megabyte thereafter (or something of that magnitude – it was quite ridiculous). I, on my 28.8k dialup connection, was pulling through up to 5GB a month for about $50 a month. No one but the rich cared that they could download at 300kb/sec, because the fact was that you could tear through that in ten minutes and then the fun would be over. Then Optus arrived. In a similar vein, 3G boasts a large increase in wireless mobile bandwidth, opening up the door for all sorts of applications. However, when costs are charged at cents per kilobyte, costs become a major concern for the consumer. So whilst they may take comfort in the fact that the technology is available to them, if they don’t use it it’s little point. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used WAP on my phone.

All this is not to say that I don’t think 3G is a bad thing. I applaud the quick development of 3G infrastructure in Australia by Hutchison/Orange, and recognise they need to recoop their extensive outlays. I’m of the mindset that you should build technology infrastructure with expandable capacity to be utilised in future, rather than reacting to the demands of the underlying uses of the technology (software and the like), especially as the underlying uses are part of an industry that expands so rapidly in its demands. However, with such a pricing scheme, I cannot see 3G taking off in the next few years, and a failure by 3 Australia in 3G may have negative consequences in terms of inducing the other mobile carriers to hesitate. In this regard, competition is terrific for consumers, especially in the diffusion of the technology. Further hampering efforts are that the Australian telecommunications industry is not well known for its competition producing vastly lower prices (our cable and ADSL caps must be among the lowest in the world).

19
Jan 03
Sun

AI and Board Games

From Shish: “Have a look at this. Some guy (and his kid, according to the About the Designers page) has designed a board game specifically to be hard for computers.” It’s called: Arimaa.

It’s an interesting idea. They are offering US$10,000 for a computer program that can beat a selected human player by 2020. The same principle exists behind an already established board game, Go, except that the programming challenge has much higher stakes:

A foundation in Taiwan, The Ing Chang-ki Goe Educational Foundation, is offering US$1,000,000 to the programmer of the first computer program that can beat a selected twelve-year-old GO player. At present, the best computer programs today play at a level of around 10-class, which is very weak, a bit stronger than an absolute beginner.

Now Professor Elwyn Berlekamp has upped the ante by offering US$5,000,000 to the first computer program that can beat a 5-dan player, which is equivalent to a strong expert player.

See: Chess vs Go for more. Go has simple rules, but holds many more combinations of possible moves than Chess.

New Mobile

I won a new Nokia 6610 which Fedex delivered today. Some months ago I entered an online competition Nokia was holding. It was a flash game where you had to click on city locations on a world map as quickly as possible. I’d forgotten about it totally, but turns out I got lucky. A big thanks to Denise who gave me the link to the competition in the first place!

The things the 6610 offers over my current 6210 are MMS, GPRS, polyphonic tones, FM radio, triband GSM and a colour screen. It has a great form factor too. Unfortunately, I have gadget lust which can only be sated with a Nokia phone also containing Bluetooth and a camera, and doesn’t look like a brick. Such a phone does not currently exist. Therefore, I’m thinking of eBaying the 6610…

8
Jan 03
Wed

What did you get this Christmas?

I e-mailed Dad about the new handheld Magellan Meridian Colour GPS unit, and received this in reply:

A patient came in today. Showed me his Christmas present from his wife which he found under a tree outside his house – a metallic silver Porsche Boxter “with a larger engine so he could go faster”. In his car was plugged in a Garmin Street Pilot III. Pretty nifty. Demonstrated it for me. Showed the exact location of the surgery and when requested a dozen resturants within a km of here. Offered it to me for a test drive any weekend.

Now, where can I find a wife like that?

9
Dec 02
Mon

Star Control 2

The source code to the original Star Control 2 for PCs may have been lost, but the code to the 3D0 version wasn’t. Some people are now porting it to other platforms, including Windows. It’s currently in Alpha, weighs in at 150 megs (the original fit on 4 5.25 inch floppies) and is available here.

2
Nov 02
Sat

Game Studies

Game Studies is a peer-reviewed international academic journal “dealing with the aesthetic, cultural and communicative aspects of computer games.” Intriguing.

26
Sep 02
Thu

Military Games

The US Army has America’s Army, their free game/recruiting tool. Palestine has Under Ash.

20
Jun 02
Thu

War3

I have played the final version of Warcraft 3. And it is Good.

18
Jun 02
Tue

Just a bit of spare change…

Jacuzzi + Plasma. Yeah, I could go for one of those.

No Pain, No ‘Game’

Created: The Painstation. It reminds me of that James Bond movie (can’t remember which one) where Bond takes on Max in a game of “Global Domination”… the controls are wired up to deliver electric shocks, and the pain delivered to the loser increased as the wagers did. Bond, in his usual style, gets himself defibrillated several times before winning the final $1 million game.

16
Jun 02
Sun

Clie NR70

Mum and Dad went to the consumer electronics show at Fox last weekend. Apparently there wasn’t much there that the Net hadn’t already reported a few months ago. Dad did spot the new Sony CLIE NR70. Very spunky indeed. I like the idea that you can turn it into a 320×480 digital photo frame. It retails at about the $1300 mark, and given that most digital photo frames go for $2000 up, the photo frame application is a very cool feature of the NR70. Unfortunately, the Pocket PC OS offers more functionality than Palm OS. The main advantage Palms had over Pocket PCs were their size (more simply = smaller device). When you try and add bells and whistles to a Palm unit, as Sony have done, the size increases to match Pocket PCs – and Palms simply don’t have the same grunt as them. 16MB of inbuilt memory is not conducive to storing multimedia, and it only has one memory stick expansion slot. Compare that to 64MB inbuilt memory and a Compact Flash + SD card expansion slot some of the new Pocket PC PDAs have. Nonetheless, the unit looks typically Sony and attaching a tiny camera to the unit is not a bad idea.

15
Jun 02
Sat

It’s Gone Gold!

Long-awaited War3 has gone gold, due for release in July.

1
Apr 02
Mon

New War3 Race

The Pandaren. The announcement was made on April 1. We are suspicious.

10
Mar 02
Sun

Warcraft III

After easily blowing a few hours playing the beta of War3, I’m still trying to get used to it. Blizzard began developing War3 as an “RPS” (marketing speak standing for role-playing strategy). Since Blizzard’s reputation is such that they’ve yet to produce a game that’s any less than dazzling, they’ve been pretty much forced to innovate to get out of the traditional RTS groove which is becoming stale. War3 still is an RTS, but it has a much different feel to it. The two main things that change gameplay seem to be the low unit cap (90 food units) and relatively low availability of gold which can only be collected at a constant rate. The focus indeed has been moved off pumping out peons and collecting resources at astronomical rates. Due to this, it is not possible to raise multiple mass armies and the importance of single units, and upgrades, is amplified. I found myself going around the map with, at most, one or two groups of men led by a hero. The hero has a town portal spell so if someone attacks your town while your band of merry men is away, they can get back quickly to defend.

All this forces games to be quite quick – you’ll find hour long games are a rarity. I haven’t decided whether I like this new gaming style. It’s definitely different and will require getting used to. War3 unfortunately lacks the magic of War2 (what happened to walling-in?) but, well, we haven’t seen the finished product yet. The collector’s edition looks like a nice package to pick up.

4
Mar 02
Mon

New Palm PDAs

Palm released two new models: the M515 and the M130. Nothing wonderfully new in those units, just beefed up specs.

26
Feb 02
Tue

Free Time? What Free Time?

Orisinal has a variety of dead simple games that will take up a lot of your free time if you give it half a chance. Be warned.

14
Feb 02
Thu

Disposable DVDs

Disposable, self-destructing DVDs. Well, it’s better than the Divx model, which flopped. Better bring out those rippers before the discs disintegrate :)

12
Feb 02
Tue

Blocking Mobiles

Telstra (and the other carriers) are finally going to block stolen mobile phones. That press release is pure propaganda. Here’s an SMH article on it. Telstra attempts to palm off the significance phone blocking has on decreasing mobile theft. I don’t think it will completely stop theft, but people buying second hand phones in future are going to want to test them out first before forking over the cash for them now. Anyhow, it would stem casual theft of mobiles quite a bit I’d imagine.

29
Jan 02
Tue

New Palm PDA

Palm has a new wireless PDA: the i705. But you need a Palm.net subscription.

IR Remote control using your PC

This page features the circuit schematics and instructions to creating infrared remote control emulation and sampling circuits, controlled from your PC.”

24
Jan 02
Thu

Question

Does anyone know where I can obtain a thermometre or light meter that can be connected to the computer? Mail me. I used to have this neat science toolkit for my old Apple II C which had light sensors and thermometers – you could use them to do all sorts of tricky stuff with (like building a seismometer). The kit was put out by the now-defunct Broderbund software.

Responses:

A light sensitive resistor or diode might be what you want, though I cant say for sure not knowing what you want to do with it.

Try Jaycar, if you have any around Camden… I believe there’s a Dick Smith in Liverpool, Campbeltown and Penrith (from memory… I live in Melbourne though :)
-Zero

—–

How much are you willing to spend? http://www.ambientsw.com/Specifications.htm
-Victor

Well I also did a bit of poking around. Vernier makes all sorts of measurement instruments that can be connected to the computer. Lares also does temperature probes. All these were a bit more expensive than I was hoping for… after all, how complex is it to make a device which reports temperatures to a computer? Motherboards can have several temperature and fan RPM headers on them, and they don’t cost $500… (RPM monitors btw, calculate fan rpm by counting the electrical pulses sent through to the fan – I think its two pulses per fan revolution). Hmm… how about Bluetooth enabled thermometers? :)

23
Jan 02
Wed

Nikon Coolpix 5000

DPReview has posted their Nikon CP5000 review. I came this close to picking one up in Singapore for a dirt cheap S$1500 at the beginning of this month… decided that the money could be put to better use in other pursuits. My cousin picked one up, however. Nikon’s digicam range is very well known for its exceptional macro shot ability. The 5000 also has a boatload of features and manual settings. Its interface isn’t the most intuitive, however, and often requires two hands to change some of these settings. In the same class, the Sony DSC-F707 seems to produce better images (thanks to its Zeiss Lens), but is constrained by the need to use proprietary, expensive memory sticks.

17
Jan 02
Thu

bbs.solosier.com

Telnet to Solo’s BBS. Wow, brings back the memories. Of course, in this day and age, you don’t have to contest with busy ring tones, 9600bps modems, (and with Solo’s BBS) 30 minute guest time limits and monthly registration fees. He has a bunch of Doors games running there, good way to pass the time.

25
Nov 01
Sun

Civ 3

I made the mistake of starting to play Civ III last night. Good-bye sleep. The game is every bit as addictive as the previous two.

22
Nov 01
Thu

Interesting read: Gamespot’s Behind the Games features.

19
Nov 01
Mon

3 New Phones

Nokia officially release three new phones: 5210, 6510 and 7650 (due out Q1 & Q2 next year). The 5210 has a thermometre. The 7650 has a VGA digital camera. The 6510 has FM radio but seems to lack Bluetooth. It also seems to be lower spec’ed than the 6310, but it is now almost as small in size as the 8310. Meanwhile, the looks of the 6xxx series continues to decline. All phones are WAP capable. All of Nokia’s phone lines seem to be converging in terms of capabilities.

18
Nov 01
Sun

New Nokia Phones

Here are a couple new Nokia phones on the horizon. The 5210 seems like it will revive the old, but popular 5110 line. The 7650 is in colour and looks very interesting. As the article points out – a reply to the Sony/Ericsson T68? I’ve never given much attention to Ericsson – Nokia always seems to produce better designed phones. However, I must say that the T68 looks quite appealing. Nokia as usual is going to the market later than its competitors, so once again we will have to wait and see what they come up with in response.

8
Nov 01
Thu

Gadgets

Just some interesting new toys:

5
Nov 01
Mon

Photography

Been reading various photography techniques that produce some neat effects.
Prolonging shutter speeds to capture motion of lights at night, using flash to freeze the foreground with a longer exposure time to blur the background. Combining the two. Shooting fireworks, the moon and lightning. General guide on night photography. High speed photography. Canon’s guide on photography. General guide to aperture and shutter speeds.

These are all fairly usual techniques I gather, but unfortunately impossible for automatic cameras to do. Digital cameras are great for experimenting with this sort of stuff because results can be viewed immediately, instead of snapping off a roll, waiting for them to be processed and hoping it turned out ok. What would be great is an SLR digital, but for the same price you could get a more than decent normal SLR camera with lenses to boot.

There are now consumer-level 5 megapixel digital cameras being made available. The Sony DSC-F707 rated well and looks good, but unfortunately you’re locked into using proprietary memory sticks which aren’t cheap (not that any solid-state memory is cheap, but relatively speaking). The new Nikon Coolpix 5000 looks like it could be a real nice one to get. Donations, anyone? :)

1
Nov 01
Thu
23
Oct 01
Tue

Gaming Nostalgia

A couple days ago a friend declared he cracked open Command & Conquer 1 to play again. That game is over 5 years old! I even remember submitting a tip to the CnC FAQ. Anyway, the point is that if you’re a gamer, chances are you’ve run across a case of gaming nostalgia. Wired has an article about a bunch of gamers recreating Ultima and getting inspired by Bard’s Tale. (EA, surprise surprise, is not happy.)

CnC is elderly, but it’s still a 90s game. Stepping back further, you get the classic style RPGs of the 80s – most notably the Ultima, Bard’s Tale and Wizardry series. The first RPG game I ever played, however, was Shadowkeep – produced by Trillium (when they still called themselves Trillium.) I still have the cardboard folders for Bard’s Tale III and Shadowkeep sitting somewhere at home. I also have a copy of the Bard’s Tale Construction Kit for the PC, but it’s on a single 5.25 inch floppy. I only have one working PC with that kinda disk drive…

22
Oct 01
Mon

X-Box

Word is that advertising for the X-Box starts in Australia this week.

18
Oct 01
Thu

Laptop

This is one sweet laptop. In addition to the normal 15″ screen, 1.13GHz P3 and magnesium casing, this beast also comes with 512MB ram standard, a detachable, bluetooth enabled keyboard, biometric security and a Quadro2 video card. You’re going to have to sell your car to buy one though. Thanks Pete!

2
Sep 01
Sun

World of Warcraft

Blizzard enters the MMORPG market with World of Warcraft.

8
Aug 01
Wed

Speedball Arena

Speedball is going to be updated for the Net age: Speedball Arena. I remember playing this madass game on the Amiga. Will be a game I’m looking forward to. I’ve a funny feeling that dialup connections won’t take too well to online play though :( {src: Fuzzy}

14
May 01
Mon

Changing Nokia LEDs

Kicking yourself because you bought a Nokia 8210 a week before the 8250 came out? The 8250 with the swank backlight? Well change the colour yourself. Thanks Burga!

2
May 01
Wed

Recording Media

Here’s a good overview of the types of recording media out there.

27
Apr 01
Fri

Orange One

We only have one phone line in this apartment and it’s perpetually hooked up to the net. A second phone line costs $200 to install plus $20/month, though, and all I want to do is to be able to make local land-line calls and receive them. Today I hooked up with Orange One Upfront… they sell CDMA mobile phones which turn into home “land-line” phones when you’re at home. The good thing about this Upfront deal is that the entire thing is prepaid so there aren’t any monthly connection charges or anything – far cheaper than getting shafted by Telstra and installing another physical line. Also, the sales guy told me that the phone’s “localzone” (the zone where it acts like a landline) covers about half the suburb you’re in – if you don’t follow the manual’s instructions to run the localzone accuracy pinpointer thing (where you dial *65). Reception has been perfectly clear when talking with other landlines. The only minuses about the package is the piece of crap LG mobile phone (model LGC-800W) they give you, and the fact that “unlimited untimed local calls” are really restricted by the 2.5 hour talk time battery life of the phone. Of course, you can’t use this “extra phone line” for data calls, but you can send SMSes out with it. Otherwise, it’s all good. I’m just going to leave the thing at home and use it for taking in local calls. (For those that know me, if you need my number, drop me a mail or icq msg.)

9
Apr 01
Mon

SMS Bombing

From Plutonia: Police take to “SMS bombing” to deter mobile phone theft. Cool idea. Of course, mobile phone companies already have access to IMEI, the ID code every mobile phone has. They can track and disable stolen mobiles, but they choose not to. In fact, everytime you make a call, the carrier knows your phone’s ID, your SIM card ID, your location (based on the cell station relaying your call), and the number you are calling. A stolen mobile still needs a SIM card, and to get a SIM guess what? You have to pay the mobile phone carriers.

Palm Wireless Net Connection

Finally makes it to Australia in the form of the Neo1. Always on, charged by data transfer, not time online. Large, clunky, expensive ($69/month + 30c/kb). Nah, won’t be in mainstream use that’s for sure.

6
Apr 01
Fri

Palm m505

Very schmick indeed. It has the profile of the Palm V range, but with colour, memory card slots and a “universal expansion” socket (like the Handspring’s expansion module). Probably come out costing a grand Aussie. Mm… would be nice to have… I can keep dreaming. Two things that I think would make it better are a bluetooth transceiver and titanium casing. Drool here.

Dial-a-Coke

Telstra and Coke are trialing what European countries have had for a while now. If you are short of change and are damn thirsty (as you are when waiting for a train that’s been delayed for an hour at Central), then dial the vending machine. The charge is added to your mobile bill without additional fees. Yes, no additional fees, I’m just as surprised as the next person. Ahhh, m-commerce. Thanks Mitch for this snippet.

1
Apr 01
Sun

Wizardry 8

There’s a preview on ZDNet of Wizardry 8. Turns out that Sir-Tech Canada is still looking for a distributor.

Fuzzy’s Back

Lucky bastard is testing a protoype of the new Ericsson R520m which has GPRS etc. Keeping up with Nokia, I suppose. Oh and Fuzzy, get rid of your DHTML scroller!

31
Mar 01
Sat

Nokia 6310

WHAT?!! Already?? Nokia already has an upgrade for the 6210, which only came out in Australia under 4 months ago. The 6310 will have Bluetooth, GPRS along with a host of other new features. Damn. That’s a phone I want…

21
Mar 01
Wed

Games

Also referred by Vic was Typing of the Dead… like House of the Dead 2 in the arcades, but replace the gun with a keyboard and speed-shooting turns into speed-typing.

Another game… Maelstrom. Anyone who went to Pine Bluff and was in 9SC1 (way back in 1994) will remember this game, originally for the Mac. Addictive. Thanks to Shish!

19
Mar 01
Mon

Wizardry VIII

Some Russian dude reviewed a preview of Wizardry 8. I thought Sir-Tech went broke… obviously not, which is good to hear. I grew up on the old Wizardry series of CRPGs. In fact, Wizardry I was the first RPG I ever finished. Ah, memories…

2
Dec 00
Sat

Nokia 6210

Finally!! They arrived in at the Vodafone store and I bought one today… This thing is the goods… HSCSD, WAP (though it’s such a useless service), larger screen than most Nokias, inbuilt modem (used it with my Palm to run a query on Google), thinner profile than the 6150, larger sms inbox memory and address book etc. Only thing it’s missing is a ringtone editor.

25
Nov 00
Sat

PSX 2

This is Playstation 2 week, with the units going on sale on the 30th (Thursday). It goes without saying that they are initially going to be obscenely priced (not that that will matter to anyone), and within a few months I’m sure the price of them will halve, or at least drop by a couple hundred bucks. Since I’m going away, I’ll wait till next year and then consider getting it. It may double as a DVD player, but apparently since it only outputs PAL, and not NTSC, it can’t be modded to be a region free one. Ah well.

24
Nov 00
Fri

Nokia 6210

They’re in!!! 10 6210s have arrived in the Telstra shop at Narellan. Unfortunately, Telstra shop = Telstra accounts only. I want Vodafone… I wonder how much it costs outright…

21
Nov 00
Tue

Classic Games

Old Games. Some absolute gems (Doom, Dune etc.) in there! (Site’s in German, but not hard to navigate it). Thanks Doz :)

19
Nov 00
Sun

EQ Suicide?

Rumour has it, some teenage girl got so attached to EverCrack that when Verant took away her moderator (guide) status, she apparently committed suicide. Here’s preliminary coverage, followed by evidence of a hoax, followed by another post about the matter. People who reach this sorry state (be it truly suicidal, or with intent to perpetrate a hoax) require a different kind of attention that an online community is a poor substitute for. It’s certainly not Verant’s direct fault.

14
Nov 00
Tue

Maglite or Baton?

That 6 D-Cell Maglite you have under your pillow is not for illumination purposes. It’s a maiming device, so stop pretending it’s not, and get one of these. That’ll scare any “monsters hiding under your bed”.

12
Nov 00
Sun

Creative Nomad II MP3 Player

This thing rocks. I mean, it’s not so good that I’d have paid the RRP (rec. ret. price) for it, but it’s great. Sound quality is great, and it comes with an FM tuner and voice recording (hmm… lecture note gathering & gossip spreading, anyone?). It’s USB enabled and can also be used as portable storage for files other than mp3/wma. And it’s so small! I’m sure the novelty will wear off in time, but not any time soon…

The only thing I can’t figure out is that it has an option between headphones output and line out. The problem is, there’s no line out hole (is it possible for line out to exit via a 3.5mm headphone connector?

Mmmm… mp3s…

When I get back from uni today, I should be holding a Nomad II with a 64 & 32 meg smartmedia card. Managed to buy one through a friend for only AU$250. I think I’ll be forgoing the usual sleep on the train on the way home today…

8
Nov 00
Wed

Nokia 6210

Well the Nokia Australia site come online recently and is advertising the 6210. Does that mean it’s out soon? I’ve been waiting a few months for this phone… if any Aussie sees it, please let me know!

The Cisco iHome

This, is cool. Thanks Fuzz!

24
Oct 00
Tue

Digital Photography

Really good site if you’re in the market for a digital camera. Its reviews are extremely comprehensive.

11
Oct 00
Wed

Digital Cameras

Now this camera, with a built in MP3 player, is a great idea (4 megapixels too!). Great size so you can carry it around like a minidisc player, and also always have a camera on hand. Pretty nicely priced as well. Just a bit light on its feature set, but what can you expect for something this small? Maybe when I’m in Singapore/Malaysia in Feb next year I can pick one up for a good price?

Price vs Pixels chart.

10
Oct 00
Tue

It’s Here

The first Bluetooth device, from Ericsson is out (their mobile phone headset thing).

5
Oct 00
Thu

DDR

You know Dance Revolution? “The dancing game”? The one all those Asians are perpetually crowded around in the arcades? People actually stick videoes of themselves playing it up on the web. They look freakishly good and stupid at the same time :).

4
Oct 00
Wed

Deckmatch

Found offa Plutonia, some guys have devised a way of playing a Quake 3 deathmatch game with a standard deck of 52 cards.

9
Sep 00
Sat

Sony CLIE

The Sony CLIE is the latest PDA to use the PalmOS. Could be just me, but it’s strange that Sony’s one doesn’t look as good as the original Palms.

7
Sep 00
Thu

Wireless Net Access

Borrowed a friend’s 8210 during a tute earlier this week. Discovered I can get my Palm to use his mobile to dial up an ISP and connect to the net with it. Sweet :) How nifty would that be, to be able to sit in a boring lecture and connect up to the net?! Ok, totally useless, totally impractical, but hey, the novelty value is there :)

2
Sep 00
Sat

Nokia News

Nokia released a new phone this week – the Nokia 3310. It’s basically the new model replacing the 3210. Looks similar (equally spiffy). Probably the most bizarre feature is the screensaver available for it. It uses anything in picture message format to display on the phone after a certain period of inactivity. Cute, but LCDs don’t really experience phosphor burn-in like CRT monitors do :) No WAP support, however. I’m still hanging out for the 6210 which is slated to be out in Europe in October, so hopefully it’ll be in Australia soonish.

Finally got an answer to the question: What is the difference between the 8210 & 8550 that makes the 8550 twice the 8210′s price? In a nutshell, the 8550 is the yuppie’s phone – the difference in price comes from the 8850 being a “status symbol”. The extra $600-700 for the 8850 certainly doesn’t reside in the differences in phone features. The 8850 is made of the now-trendy-in-gadgets anodised aluminium, has a white backlight, a sliding case which ends calls/protects the keypad and has an internal antenna which is slightly bigger (meaning marginally better reception). The phone software is identical except that the 8210′s is labelled NSM-3, and the 8850 is NSE-3. That’s it. So now you know that the people with 8850s are yuppies with too much money :).

Diablo 2 Expansion Preview

Here. Starring Baal. No surprise there. It’s sounding good… two new classes are assassin (so you don’t have to make your necro run around with a poison dagger to simulate one :) and druid.

The Sims

Some people just don’t like The Sims

26
Aug 00
Sat

Online Game

Something originating from Scandinavia to occupy your time with: PlayDo

16
Aug 00
Wed

Make a Living Off Diablo 2

These guys can level up a character to Level 60+ on (closed) B.net in four hours. They then sell them for about US$50 on E-Bay. Quite a handy bit of “work”.

10
Aug 00
Thu

Non-solid state memory MP3 Players

Various replies. I’m not sure if any are available in Australia, but I’m sure some are orderable from over the net and accommodate for international shipping.

Golar: Review of the Mambo-X and MPTrip from IGN For Men. Neither look to be exciting.
Outsider: Refers to Thinkgeek, which is where I bought my Photon Light from.
Matto: MP3.com.au (includes car players)
Kyp: Hardware.mp3.com
Golar (again): hardware.dmusic.com (anyone remember the days when Dimension Music used to be an illegal mp3s site?) DM has a nice MP3 listing. RCA’s RP2410 looks good, as does the iRad-C (although the latter is a component for home hi-fis).

Also, the exorbitantly-priced-runs-on-Linux Empeg car player.

5
Aug 00
Sat

MP3 CD Players

Can anyone point out a site to me which has a listing (and reviews) of available MP3 CD players? Or even MP3 players that don’t use solid state memory as storage (eg: Nomad Jukebox).

3
Aug 00
Thu

Intacta Code

About the Intacta code I mentioned yesterday:

If that GoCode thing holds 400 bytes per cm^2, then a 3 by 4 square would be 12 cm^2, which would hold 400 * 12 = 4800 bytes…which is about 5 kilobytes, not 5 megabytes :) So, it would be cool for sharing small text files, putting your PGP key on a business card, etc, etc, but dont expect to be swapping postage stamps that have mp3s or full motion video on them (unless Australia uses big stacks of paper as postage stamps *grin*)

I picked up on that too. But, assuming the magazine wasn’t incorrect – I’d also assume that the cm it is talking about isn’t, in fact square, but a cm line one pixel wide. However, this would mean the 5MB pic would have to be roughly 4167 pixels high within the 4 cm block. 4cm is roughly 1.5 inches, so you’d need a scanner capable of over 2000 dpi. Intacta says you only need a scanner capable of 300dpi, so I can only conclude that E-Mag Screwed Up. :)

Here’s a press release from Intacta that gives more information.

2
Aug 00
Wed

E-Mag Rocks

One particularly interesting article from E-Mag… think of the possibilities…

Last month we told you about GoCode, the printed barcode that could load a Web address into your computer. Japanese newspapers are going one step further, with information – like an MP3 file or actual text – embedded in the dots and dashes rather than just a code that later links to information. The company Intacta, says its Intacta Code can contain any digital information, such as video, for example. Once the printed pattern is scanned into a computer, free reader software translates it back into the full file.

How big does the barcode need to be? Every centimetre can hold around 400 bytes, which means a 5-megabyte file would be printed as a 3 by 4-centimetre code. You could travel with important documents embedded in seemingly innocuous pictures…

12
Jul 00
Wed

Uhh

Blame Blizzard! They are a narcotics manufacturer! Can’t stop… the compulsion… Multiplay… no sleep… need caffeine…

8
Jul 00
Sat

The Addiction

Yep, it’s Diablo 1 all over again, but even worse, with Diablo 2′s save system. “Just one more level…” Midway through Act 2 last night. Check out Salon’s article on how Diablo 2 is really a fashion show in disguise.

6
Jul 00
Thu

Diablo 2, Icewind Dale

Bought those two games today. Time to try ‘em out.

5
Jul 00
Wed

A Gaming Truth

It is a 40 minute drive from here to Pip’s house:

Pip: “now if you really want to be sure of getting a copy [of Diablo 2] come at 8:45. by 9:00 we’ll be [at Electronics Boutique]“
Inferno: “there is no way i am waking up that early, even for D2 :)”
Pip: “you lack commitment to the highest traditions of blizzard gaming :)”
Inferno: “It’s funny… Any gaming classic will override priority to get to sleep. However, no gaming classic will override the priority to stay asleep after you’ve gone to sleep … well that’s for me anyhow”
Pip: “for sure …. i aint waking up at 6:00 in the morning for no game”

1
Jul 00
Sat

Diablo II

Out in Australia this Thursday on the 6th. GST Included. :Þ

13
Jun 00
Tue

Local Diablo 2 Server?

The day we Aussies don’t have to write up a petition (that is more often than not just ignored) to plead for a server on our continent, is still a long way off. Australian Diablo 2 server petition.

12
Jun 00
Mon

Bluetooth!

One of the first in a batch of Bluetooth appliances. Thanks Fuzz *”*!

10
Jun 00
Sat

Yes Yes

Diablo II has gone gold and I’m in the Stress Test :)

26
May 00
Fri

Classic Gaming

Some time this week, I got a sudden and inexplicable craving to play Archon II (last played when I was about 8 on the Apple ][ C). So I found an Apple ][ E emulator. And the Archon II ROM. (I still have a box full of about 500 5.25″ floppies gathering dust in the study, and one of them is Archon.) I’m surprised I still remember how to play it, actually. When searching for Archon I came across a few other classics like Bard’s Tale and… Taipan!! Taipan is the kickass precursor of Dopewars. Mad fun, and no 30 day money earning time limit. I’ve bundled up the Emulator, Taipan and the 2 Archon’s right here. Unzip, run Setup to associate .dsk files with the emulator, then run the .dsk files. More ROMS available here and here.

Mobile Tunes SMS

Get mobile phone tunes SMSed to you. (Nokia 5110 users are out of luck). Me? I’m still using a generic ring – tunes tend to be too soft to hear.

16
May 00
Tue

Udder Insanity

The latest Office game and productivity killer :) But fun! heh

Neverwinter Nights @ E3

From FiringSquad:

One is the more secure method to prevent cheating – store the character on a server and that way no one can get an unfair advantage over anyone else, unless it’s the server operator. However, this has the drawback of limiting your play to that single server, which can limit your advancement and especially interaction with other players, since you’re probably going to find yourself playing with the same people the whole time. This won’t be bad if the other pla y ers are all friends of yours (one of BioWare’s key goals was to promote interaction among friends), but the opportunities to meet new people like this will be limited.

Is anyone thinking what I am thinking this is crying out for? :)

15
May 00
Mon

Palm Dopewars

I high scored with $48.43 million in Dopewars today on my Palm :) Sweet.

10
May 00
Wed

Dry

I have nothing to post about today :/. Except that one of these would be sooo handy in tech support. I want. (It’s a Swiss Army Knife geared for techies)

9
May 00
Tue
5
May 00
Fri

Daikatana Gone Gold

Daikatana, the Quake 2 killer, finally went gold after about a decade of development :Þ

1
May 00
Mon

Red Alert 2

Kept under wraps for a while, Red Alert 2 is Westwood’s “sequel” to Red Alert. Let’s hope it fares better than Tiberium Sun, which flopped pretty badly in my mind (gameplay-wise).

26
Apr 00
Wed

Gadgets & Gizmo Obsessions

Yep, sounds like me (NYTimes link, requires registration, which although free is a bit of an annoyance). I wouldn’t have gone so far as to actually say this, though (in reference to a Palm): “You have a sense when you hold one of these devices that you’re grasping some distillation of human knowledge that represents centuries of evolution — and here it is.” I love gadgets.

Connectivity

Been a while since I’ve been to Icepick, but if you want to see connectivity, this is it. Y’know what’s a good idea… an alarm that sends you an email or SMS to tell you if you’ve left a fridge door open… or an automatic garage door up.

Mobile Phones

So, mobile phones can cause memory loss, muscle pains, death (in more ways than one), cancer, and even diarrhoea. Of course, they may still save you from heart attacks. The human race is doomed. Also, Aussies and mobiles.

23
Apr 00
Sun

Daikatana

The 100 meg demo download has begun. Should be done in… about 10 hours :/

17
Apr 00
Mon

Bigger Is Better

Except when you can’t get the damn thing through the door. My cousin is looking at buying a Toshiba 61″ (155cm) rear projection TV. A friend recently got a 50 incher, and I was pretty impressed with its size, so we pulled out the tape measure and measured out 61″. I was even more impressed. However, Toshiba had a larger 65″ model HDTV (shipping in a 224 kg package). It didn’t stop there. Although 61″ is pretty much the largest set obtainable in Australia, apparently there were 70 inchers around, so we started looking around the net for larger TV sets. We came across a Mitsubishi 73″ (185cm). That’s big. But it seems the Japanese have taken up the Yank adage that “bigger is better” with a little too much zeal and, unsatisfied with a behemoth 73″, have produced an 80″ (203cm) rear projection TV. Which is all fine and good until you realise that most Japanese apartments are smaller than the cardboard box these units would ship in (I mean, when you have hotels like this, space is a definite luxury – they aren’t side loading washing machines, nor are they cryogenic stasis tubes. Each door leads to a hotel “room”). The TV is 30″ deep, which means if you want to fit it through a normal sized doorway, you’ll have to remove the door, and door frame to fit it through. It towers at 74″ high (188cm) and has a screen larger than some of the smaller cinemas on George Street.

But wait, what if you want bigger? You’d have to go for a front projection unit. How about the Vidikron Kronos One, which projects an image up to 250″ big. Not the largest, but who could pass up a projection unit that is Pininfarina designed? (Y’know, the guy that designs Ferraris. Now you too, can have his logo, if not in your garage, then in your TV room). Of course, the Sony JumboTron has the last word in giant displays, although it isn’t exactly for the consumer yet. But only because the Yanks are waiting for the price to drop.

16
Apr 00
Sun
10
Apr 00
Mon

Portable MP3 Players

This may be good (off Fuzzy’s), but this is better. And cheaper. And looks nicer :).

7
Apr 00
Fri

Overheard

On List-en: “My mobile phone is getting spam which is pissing me off. :)” (That wasn’t me, btw :)

4
Apr 00
Tue

Think You’re Protected? HAH!

I find this incredibly ironic. Mobile phone users who think they are protecting their brains by using handsfree kits may actually be chanelling three times the amount of radiation into their bodies.

Warning issued about hands-free phone kits

LONDON (April 3, 2000 5:42 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) – Hands-free kits for phones, designed to protect the health of cell-phone users, can actually increase levels of radiation transmitted to the brain, Britain’s Consumers’ Association warned Monday.

Researchers found two devices they tested acted as aerials, channeling three times as much radiation from the mobile telephone into the user’s head.

Sales of hands-free kits have rocketed amid reports linking mobile phone use to ill health, including possible brain tumors.

But test results from Which? — the trading arm of the Consumers’ Association — showed the devices did not provide protection.

“If you’re worried about levels of radiation from your mobile phone, you shouldn’t rely on a hands-free set,” said Graeme Jacobs, editor of Which? magazine.

“The two models we tested triple the radiation to your brain, though we still don’t know for certain whether that radiation is harmful.”

Jacobs said there was no conclusive evidence that mobile phone radiation caused health problems, but neither had the fears been discounted.

“International research is ongoing, but until conclusive evidence is available, users could limit their phone use if they are concerned about radiation,” he said.

Source: Nando Media. Of course, there’s still no conclusive proof that the radiation is harmful, but I don’t really believe that the radiation emitted is all harmless.

25
Mar 00
Sat

Palm Vx Review

This device is awesome. Apart from being a glorified daily organiser (that it may be, but it would be an incredibly short-sighted assessment to leave it at that), it can be used for a multitude of other things. Alongside the standard memopad, calendar/scheduling, to do lists and contact directory, there are tonnes of apps available for it – you think of any situation a handheld computer can be used in, and someone’s probably written an app for it. I love its internet syncing utilities. I’m always rushed when I take off for work in the morning, so what I can do now when I wake up is hit the hotSync button and the computer loads to the Palm all the e-mail that’s come in overnight, as well as about 300-400kB of news articles from Wired, CNet, Salon, the weather etc. Naturally, I plan to write something so I can download e/n articles too. I grab the freshly recharged Palm from the cradle and off I go. I’ve got an hour to read it all on the train, afterall. I can even compose e-mail replies, to be sent the next time the Palm gets synched with the computer.

Aesthetically, the palm is small, light, and looks sleek in its anodised aluminium case. The 16-colour grayscale display is quite sharp and readable. The scroll buttons on the centre bottom aren’t very well placed – when holding the unit in the left hand, the thumb can’t reach down to hit it, and the right hand is holding the stylus so it’s pretty much inaccessible unless you hit it with the stylus (but that’s just wrong). They should’ve put the scroll button on the left side, perhaps. The palm’s speaker could be a bit louder as well. Other than those minor gripes, the Palm Vx may be a yuppie gimmick, but it’s a very functional yuppie gimmick :).

21
Mar 00
Tue

New Toy

Cousin just rang from the Palm developer’s conference. I should soon have a Palm Vx to play with :). I just couldn’t resist the 25% off offer.

Diablo 2 Beta

You Yanks and Canucks did remember to sign up for the Diablo 2 beta, right?

Starlancer Trailer

Pip enthusiastically pointed out the trailer for Starlancer to me. He’s right, it looks pretty schmick.

19
Mar 00
Sun

3rd Generation Mobile Phones

Hey Roosh, no doubt you’d find this as exciting as I do. And I only just found out that university has a wireless network within the library building. I’d imagine in the not too distant future, universities (and even schools) will have a wireless network encompassing the whole campus – one you’ll be able to jack your mobile phone or laptop into (I’m thinking something Bluetooth-like on a big scale).

18
Mar 00
Sat

Palm Vx

I got an invitation to a Palm developer’s conference in Sydney this Wednesday. They’re selling off Palm Vx’es there for 25% off. Can’t go, of course, but my cousin can, and he’s going to grab a couple. I wonder if I should get one?

16
Mar 00
Thu

Diablo II Public Beta

It’s here… the Diablo 2 Beta signup will be starting on March 20. But: “This beta will be limited to participants in the United States and Canada only.” Shit. Thanks to Solo for the heads up on that.

8
Mar 00
Wed

On Lan Gaming and Verbal Warnings

“You know where they are, your team mates know where they are, they know you know where they are, but they don’t know where you are. understand? no?”

6
Mar 00
Mon

Yuppy Devices

Nokia released three new mobile phone models. The 6210 and 6250 are the latest edition to the 6xxx line. Both support WAP/WML and have internal antennae. The 6250 is meant to be a sturdy durable model for rough workplaces (construction sites etc), being waterproof, but it’s almost 50% heavier than the 6210. The 8890 is part of the line of smallest Nokias (a little too small, for my tastes). I reckon Nokia produces the nicest phones compared to all others – aesthetically pleasing, large screen, long battery life and very, very usable.

27
Feb 00
Sun

The Sims

Well now… I hope he’s talking about The Sims :) Just think what this game is doing to a generation of people that will become parents within a decade hehehe

Pip: kids are a needless drain of resources and adults time (they cant cook for themselves, dont have a job, fuck em) one kid in the dogg family i just walled up in a closet sized shack and watched him starve, piss himself repeatedly then die
Inferno: shit hahahah. aren’t you glad your parents aren’t YOU :)
Pip: damn straight

Whoops. Too late.

23
Feb 00
Wed

Palm IIIc

The new Palm 3c just got released. It sports an 8-bit colour screen, add-on (à la the Handspring’s Springboard) modules and PalmOS 3.5. I like. I think I might get it when the price starts to fall a bit. They also released a “full-sized” keyboard that folds up to be the same size as the Palm unit itself. Now that sounds impressive.

18
Feb 00
Fri

Ultima Online 2

They’ve got a logo for it now. It looks more… “techie” and not so medieval.

MP3 CD Players

Does anyone know of any currently on the market? MamboX looks pretty schmick, but are any “big name” companies producing them? And what about in-car MP3 players?

9
Feb 00
Wed

Might & Magic 8: Day of the Destroyer

New World Computing is churning these titles out one a year… way too quickly for RPGs. MM8 is scheduled for release in Autumn. Interesting though, in this one you can have vampires, necromancers and dragons in your party. See IGN’s preview.

15
Dec 99
Wed

UIX Ascension Dragon Edition

Asked that guy at the small computer game store near the cinemas on George Street about the Dragon Edition. He seems to think it “might” be imported to Australia in January. Good news. Except for the fact that Ascension is ridiculously overspeced and somewhat buggy.

7
Dec 99
Tue

Wondering…

Does anybody out there know what happened to the Kali-based OzLeagues? OzWL? OzDRL? Anyone reading this site that used to be a member of any of them? I went hunting for them the other day and they seem to have vanished off the face of the earth. Mail me.

6
Dec 99
Mon

Gamespot Game Quiz

Test your knowledge… hey it has a screenshot of dopewar’s “predecessor”!

Diversion

Connect 4!

Ultima Ascension

I held the box today. But of course I’m still trying to obtain the Dragon Edition. $35 shipping for a $55 game from Electronics Boutique USA? I don’t think so! No one seems to have heard of it in Aus tho…

5
Dec 99
Sun

Ooooh

I was just finishing off Baldur’s Gate (I never got around to finishing it, but seeing it’s holidays, I thought it’s now or never) and I came across this. Which is, of course, a reference to Neverwinter Nights. It actually makes sense now :).

For The Voyeur In Us All

Remember when Sony released its camcorder with night vision? The one that, in certain lighting conditions, also allowed it to see through clothes? Too bad they modified it and disabled this “feature”. Well a Japanese company makes a filter which bypasses this. Remember The World Is Not Enough, with James Bond and his X-Ray glasses? :). Actually it’s not really x-ray, it’s infra-red.

If that’s not enough, here’s a site with all sorts of spy-type devices. Scary. Funny how this site’s x-ray camera section advertises only the ability to see-through clothes :). It doesn’t pretend to have any other functions heh.

28
Nov 99
Sun

Can’t Stop the Addiction

A friend got hooked on dopewars (heh distributing that program during exams is a little slack :) and went and found the official site. The high score there is just obscene. It’s around $149 million.

This person’s suggestion about sociologically/politically profiling the e/n community (using a “third party”) is definitely intriguing. Anyone wanna actually do it though?

Hi Inferno.

Thanks for the new link to another silly game: dopewars.  It’s a little less inane that slime volleyball, but a worthwhile timewaster nevertheless.

I am frankly amazed at the $27 million profit you mention, and even the “third of that” that you refer to (although I note that you say that you haven’t reached that target).  I have only managed to do $2.9 million.  Maybe I just haven’t invested enough time to get lucky enough.  I usually only do as well as that when I get lucky with cocaine or heroin.   (I am glad that the context of this shows pretty clearly that this is a *game* we are talking about – out of contect that last sentence could look pretty bad for me.)

Bye
Paul

P.S.  Someone should do a sociological study of e/n and the kinds of things that get posted.  It might only be worthwhile if the “studier” some decent access to the *actual text* of the other communications that take place between people (e.g. you and Solo – what a suprise to hear has been creative with his account of something concerning Roosh).  As an absoloute outsider (and occasional visitor to some e/n sites from time to time) the social forces at work here, the various personalities (as they portray themselves and are portrayed by others) and the various relationships are interesting to say the least.

And its a bit hard to uderstand why anyone gets upset at anything Solo says.  He seems like a fairly normal opinionated kind of guy, who is going to say and do stuff to entertain himself no matter what anyone else thinks or says: so what?  The dogs way in the distance may be barking, but no one should give a rats, least of all compose diatribes about it (or shold I say “rants” about it).  But people will be childish and stupid no matter how old they are: no-one should expect the members of an online community (such as it is) to be any different.

Anyway, thats enough pontificating.   Good luck in your next dopewars game.

22
Nov 99
Mon

Ascension

Ultima hits the stores tomorrow in America. I’m looking for a copy of the Dragon Edition, but it looks like it won’t make it here to Australia. I guess I could order over the net, but the shipping fees are prohibitive. Damnit. No chalupas and now no Ultima 9 DE. I will find it somewhere…

Dopewars

The highest score I’ve heard of, and that no one has even held a candle to, is $27.7 million. Shite, that is one helluva profit. I haven’t even been able to make a third of that.

20
Nov 99
Sat

Getting Nostalgic

[ Retro Sci-fi. Mmm. ]Anyone ever play Star Control 1 or Star Control 2 (released 1990 and 1992 respectively)? Star Control 2 was one of the first games I played on the PC… it had a genuinely intriguing plot, (.mod) music which was way ahead of its time, and a great tongue-in-cheek sense of humour (although at the time, the ‘humour’ behind the Syreen “Penetrator” Starships which looked like this was sort of lost on an 11 year old). Anyway, nostalgia and boredom struck, mixed, and I found myself surfing around for Star Control sites, and came across www.star-control.com. Star Control has since been discontinued (after SC3) yet someone went out and paid US $70 for the domain name of a defunct game series. Hey, I’m not complaining. It brought back memories. Heh.

Anyway, the SC2 fit on four 5.25 inch high density floppies, so I figured someone must have uploaded a copy of the game somewhere. Following a link trail, someone had made his “backup” copies (hah) of SC1 and SC2 publicly available. So here they are for you to download, Star Control 1 & Star Control 2. They’re old dos games, so you’ll probably have to run them in dos mode (this faq covers any problems you might have). You might have to make use of this map to get past the copy protection (but I think running starcon2.com disables the protection).

18
Nov 99
Thu

Dopewars

What’s your highest score? Incidentally, if you were wondering what PCP and MDA were, here’s a site for the whole family… complete with pictures.

16
Nov 99
Tue

Quake 3 Beta

Yeh yeh it’s out. Grabbable from here (Aussie site): QGL. The five hour download is almost over…

14
Nov 99
Sun

Dope Wars

I can’t believe how long Dopewars kept me occupied for – and it’s a text-only game. You’re a drug dealer and your aim is to make as much money as possible in 31 days. Reminds me of Taipan on the old Apple IIC (anyone remember Taipan?). Made $3.8 million, and still playing it :).

1
Nov 99
Mon

Ascension Demo

Being the die hard Ultima fan that I am, I went off and downloaded Ascension through a 33.6K modem connection (and Geeklife said I was “fuct”. Oh really? :). Gee, my Banshee card doesn’t quite cut it, it’s playable, but not really smooth. Very slick with a pretty good user interface – definitely not as arcadey as Tomb Raider, which is a relief. Music, if that’s what’s going to be in the final version isn’t very memorable, unfortunately. The gameplay feels good, although maneuvering the Avatar will take a little getting used to. Regardless, this is a game I’m gonna buy as soon as it hits the shelves.

War2 BNE

When the hell does it come out in Australia?? Noddy, who works at a damn games store doesn’t even know.

29
Oct 99
Fri

UIX Demo Download

3DFiles has an “unofficial” copy of the Ascension Demo at this FTP site. It’s not 400 megs, it’s 300 :).

28
Oct 99
Thu

Ultima IX: Ascension Demo

Origin has done it once again. Remember how Wing Commander II weighed in at a whopping 20 megs and came on about 15 floppies? Fast forward to the end of the millennium, and now they are distributing a 400 meg demo. If the Ultima Ascension demo is 400 megs… I wonder how big the full thing is. Damn… not available for download, or at least, I haven’t found out if anyone’s stuck it on the net. This game is gonna kick major ass… I still remember playing Ultima I on the old Apple IIC. It’s come a long way.

Demo News! Subscribers of CGW should be receiving their December issue now, which contains the Ultima IX: Ascension demo. If you’re not a subscriber, look for the December issue to appear on the shelves within the coming weeks!! Subscribers of CGW should be receiving their December issue now, which contains the Ultima IX: Ascension demo. If you’re not a subscriber, look for the December issue to appear on the shelves within the coming weeks!

16
Oct 99
Sat

Cyber Swiss Army Knife

No it’s not a “virtual knife”, but it is a knife for the wired world. Toolwise, I can see myself using one of these things more than a normal one. See Victorinox.

25
Sep 99
Sat

Ultima Online 2 Announced

Origin announced Ultima Online 2 was in development. I sincerely hope they fix up the lag issues. It’s due out late 2000. Now I’m convinced I should be playing a MMRPG, but I can’t figure out which one. Especially with Asheron’s Call, Middle Earth and NWN coming out…

22
Sep 99
Wed

Starcraftin’ Incident

Playing Starcraft with a friend. I’m running around with a Dark Archon on full mana charge and I spot this transport sitting in the middle of nowhere. Zap, mind control, it’s mine, and I’ve buggered off with a transport filled with 8 SCVs :). Well how was I supposed to know he got a phone call from his g/f and got “momentarily distracted”? Hahaha. Conversation later…

Inferno: i’m gonna nick off with one of your SCVs again :)
PK: NOT ONE!!!!!!!!!!!! ALL 8!!!!!!!!!!!! FRIGGIN CHEAP ASS!!!!!!!!!! GO PLAY TERRANS IF U LIKE MY SCVS SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Damn Protoss!!! can warp in their own building, but cant even build a bloody SCV!!! Damn ALIENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Inferno: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHA
PK: Go play terrans if u ;like using my units so mcuh :) hehehehe… Damn Protoss its just not fair!!! Friggin Kill all my units before i let them defect to u! Weak minds these humans

15
Sep 99
Wed

Product Releases

Two very interesting releases. Handspring, has released their new PDA, the Visor. It runs the PalmOS, is cheap, and has an innovative expansion slot. I’ve been eyeing out PDAs for a while now, and this one looks to be the goods.

Secondly, Zero-knowledge systems has released Beta 3 of their “Freedom” Net anonymity package for public download.

5
Sep 99
Sun

Drool Here >>> O

Warcraft III Baby!!! YEEEEEAH!!!!!!! Time to restart up my old clan, methinks :) Too bad it’s going to take almost as long as the next Star Wars movie to arrive…

29
Aug 99
Sun

Tiberian Sun

As much as I hate to say it, it’s nothing special (asides from the fact that it’s C&C and it’s got a lot of nice cutscenes). Had it been released one year earlier, maybe. I didn’t know James Earl Jones was casted in it…

Cow Tossing

Not cow tipping, but cow tossing. How the hell do people manage a perfect score? Thanks to Kev.

18
Aug 99
Wed

Slime Volleyball brought to you by “some site”

That game’s been making rounds… Obaba, Knightly’s, Fuzzy’s, BAMF, etc. Here’s me being prophetic, whilst bitching with Noddy about TransPacific Lag:

[Noddy]
http://ihome.cuhk.edu.hk/~b400850/coolgame/
i know i signed it…….
try thar url :)

[Inferno]
hehe did you ever play uo then?

[Noddy]
yeah on a friends too lagged

[Inferno]
apparently EQ isn’t that bad over a modem
this volleyball thing is going to be very
addictive. I just lost 6-0 but i’m trying
again.. (and again and again :)

It’s like that damn snake game on the nokia mobile phones… That BO2K link’s also been circulating around… anyone know of any more?

Half-Life 1.0.1.3 Patch

This is due to be released today, US time. Got a schmick new feature – a stats keeper. No doubt you’ll be seeing my extraordinary suicide counts appearing here soon :).

This update to Half-Life includes the following changes:
- The mod browser now supports .zip file decompression.
- We’ve added a new feature for server operators called ‘TF Stats’, which takes server log files and creates a web page with the results of your TFC match. TF Stats also gives awards for various feats accomplished during the game, like the “Swiss Cheese” award for the person with the most kills using the assault cannon, and the “Kamikaze” award for the player who dies the most times by his/her own hand. (Refer to \halflife\tfc\manual\TFStats.htm for instructions.)
- The server now allows banning by WON uniqueid. (Refer to TFCServer.htm located in your \halflife\tfc\manual folder.)
- We’ve updated the TFC manual with information about running a TFC server.

Assassin

No doubt you’ve heard of Bleem!, the Playstation emulator. There’s another one that claims to be better, called Assassin.

17
Aug 99
Tue

Slime Volleyball

Sponge, Wildebeest and Juseck all beat the machine. Wildebeest got a screenshot. I fired the game up again today and finally beat it.

16
Aug 99
Mon

Half-Life Mod

Counterstrike Beta 2 is out.

Mindless Addiction

Damn it. I can’t win this damn game. I defy you all to send me a screenshot displaying human victory :). Thanks to Noddy for the link.

14
Aug 99
Sat

Neverwinter Nights

Created by Bioware, (Baldur’s Gate, remember?) Neverwinter Nights is a quasi Massively Multiplayer RPG. The web site recently went live (I think), and it’s a game I’m keeping tabs on – looks very nice.

8
Aug 99
Sun

Tiberium Sun Went GOLD!

Finally. This game, delayed by like, two years, is due out by the end of this month. Check out the countdown. It’s been way too long. C&C was to the RTS genre as Doom was to the FPP genre. Only Dune 2 and Wolfenstein 3D were earlier.

1
Aug 99
Sun

Palm

It’s a “special edition” of the Palm IIIe! Due to be released on August 3rd:

This Special Edition is identical to a Palm IIIe ™ connected organizer, except that it will come with a   clear housing and a clear flip lid, instead of the traditional gray. The suggested retail price is $229.00 US and will be available for a limited time

31
Jul 99
Sat

D:\Half-Life\tfc\config.cfg

bind “[" "say Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight."

bind "]” “say O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.”

bind “o” “say My goodness, and my fortress. My high tower, and my deliverer. My shield, and he in whom I trust – who subdueth my people under me.”

bind “p” “say Be not that far from me, for trouble is near – haste Thee to help me.”

Hmm. I wonder what character class I play the most in Team Fortress? :) And, if you want, you can mail me your answer (and reason) to see if you were right. Not that hard to figure out, tho.

29
Jul 99
Thu

Wartorn

Wartorn Beta Phase 3 started (I got my logon and password, at least). It’s a fully 3D RTS game. Looks nice :).

23
Jul 99
Fri

Yawn

Up till 7am playing Half-life Team Fortress Classic with this crazy medic Gior and this crazy sniper Arcteryx… “Hey guys… the sun’s up.”

Q3Test 1.07

Was released recently here.

18
Jul 99
Sun

Betrayal At Krondor

Hey, I found out that Sierra is giving out a full non-demo version of the four year old game. I’d play it to see how closely the novel was written to it (a rare case where computer game was written before the novel, which I’ve read) but the graphics are just too aged. Like every game, though, it had its day. Maybe when I’m ultra bored I’ll get around to playing it. Then I’ll have to get my hands on Return to Krondor too.

11
Jul 99
Sun

Games

I don’t think I played a game since uni started back in March. So I got my hands on Mechwarrior 3, Thief, TA Kingdoms and the Ultima Collection (which finally dropped to $30). The first two are addictive, to say the least. Thief is plain scary with the lights out.

14
Jun 99
Mon

M&M VII

Spoke too soon. Apparently (as in, my-source-is-an-ICQ-message, apparently) Might & Magic 7: For Blood and Honour (sorry, honor for the yanks) gets released in the US this week. With 3D accelerator support this time around, too.

Gnome

Installed Gnome in Linux last night. So what did I do with it? Spent all night playing Gnu-othello (Othello). I need a new game to play (and preferably one that’s not under general public licence).

27
Mar 99
Sat
15
Mar 99
Mon

Mobile Phones

They do, they don’t. They do, they don’t. It’s beginning to look as if the radiation from mobiles is, to an undetermined extent, harmful. Although I’ve been told there’s “no correlation” between the radiation and brain dysfunction, scientists performing mobile phone research, “tend not to use them themselves.” Then over the radio, mobile phones reportedly cause lapses in short-term memory when in use. Now there’s this. Someone’s doing what everyone does these days when something goes wrong. Sue. A man is attempting to sue British Telecom for damages …

“I’d lose my memory of the time I was on the phone, so even when I got the information that I required, I’d have to ring up again because I’d already forgotten it,” he said on Sunday.
Source: Reuters

… apparently caused by his mobile. Of course, if he succeeds, do you realise what it would happen? People everywhere suing their phone company’s ass for brain damage. Then phone companies would have to start displaying stickers on phones saying, “Surgeon General’s Warning: Prolonged exposure may cause permanent brain damage.”

12
Mar 99
Fri

Kickass!

Preview of Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honour at IGN. That was quick.

2
Mar 99
Tue

Earth 2050

Earth 2050 is starting a new round today. If you haven’t heard of Earth, it’s an Archmagish type game (as seen on Slonglovision :) that’s been around before Archmage and is a bit less complex. It’s a turn based text game over the net set in the future. Try Earth 2050 or Utopia, both hosted by Echelon Games.. I prefer Utopia myself – it’s time-based, with the game moving forwards on the hour, which is slightly different from Earth where you stockpile moves.

28
Feb 99
Sun

South Park?

Did you buy Tiger Woods 99 PGA Golf Tour for your PlayStation? Quick, stick the CD into your computer’s CD-ROM drive. Apparently, the programmers of the golf game decided to sneak in footage from the South Park episode, The Spirit of Christmas. Tightass corporates, EA, decided to recall all 100,000 copies of the game. Now why would anyone want to return a CD that has an added bonus on it?

14
Feb 99
Sun
2
Feb 99
Tue

Discovered…

This schmick War2 site here I somehow managed to miss for… uh… a month.

28
Jan 99
Thu

Stunning Display of Incompetence on ICQ

[him] how r u going in utopia?
[me] not playing it anymore… why? dunno why…
[him] oh… y not?
[me] hell i already answered that
[him] u did? when?

(Disgruntled and stunned silence)

6
Jan 99
Wed
22
Dec 98
Tue

Team Fortress II

Looks excellent, except that Valve is turning it into a separate game. Which means we’ll have to shell out more money. Looking at the increasing realism in games… You know what would be a good idea? You get affected by weapons in other ways than damage. If a grenade, for instance, goes off in front of you, you run around blinded by a white screen (this happened to me on a cadet camp several years ago – a bunger went off by my face and I was crawling around blind for a few seconds). Then of course, if a grenade goes off close to you, you get deafened (à la Saving Ryan’s Privates) – one speaker shuts down (no more stereo sound or, surround sound). Someone’s probably going to steal this idea :). Or, a shot to the leg with a pistol when you’re on low health makes you limp (travel slower).

17
Dec 98
Thu

Brood War goes GOLD!

Blizzard has released Brood Wars, expansion pack to Starcraft. Along with it is a picture of the Zerg Queen Kerrigan shown in a Christmas light :). The pic they put up last year was better… a Santa Hydralisk :) hehe

7
Dec 98
Mon

LAN Games

Something will always go wrong when you try to get a LAN running to play games. I went over to my cousin’s house a couple nights ago to give the recently purchased copies of Half-Life a go. Anyway, after dragging my computer over to his house (sans monitor), we found out that the null-modem cable was missing. No matter, he drove out to buy one, while I stayed back to figure out how to get the TV-Out working on his Canopus – I was going to use his monitor, whereas he was going to use his bigass TV.

Of course, he came back with, not a cable, but two network cards. We banged them in. The TV-Out was still giving problems, but after 20 minutes we managed to figure it out. The output was fuzzy, and it was hard to make out the words, but it made you realise how clear proper monitors are. And probably why we’re not hearing anymore about Gateway’s Destination system (computer shipped with a TV instead of a monitor, and other home theatre equipment).

Then the network wouldn’t work. Another half-hour of looking through crappy documentation, we found out that we forgot to plug the T-Connectors and Terminators onto the coax cable – we had just plugged the cable straight in, from one port to the other.

Right, now the network worked, but the computers weren’t recognising each other. We couldn’t figure this one out. At that point in time we had to leave the house, but on the way we picked up a null-modem cable to use instead of the network. I said jokingly to him, “Knowing our luck today, Half-Life won’t support null-modem.”

When we arrived back, the network was working. Somewhere along the line he changed a few input/output values for the card which “didn’t look quite right” and it started working, miraculously. It was just as well – Half-Life didn’t support null-modem. Then came the Voodoo card in my computer – I hadn’t loaded on the drivers, and the drivers we had weren’t installing. So, we had to connect to the net and transfer the files over the network onto my computer, and that was another problem down, and we were ready to play, but by that time it was so late that we only got a couple hours in.

LAN Games II

I went back to his house last night for a longer and better Half-Life game, and it ended up carrying on all night. That game rocks, I swear – it’s an improvement on Quake 2 in so many ways, so it was quite easy to keep playing. When I mean all night, I mean all night. We played during the arvo, stopped for dinner, then continued to midnight. Midnight passed. Then, very soon, we saw the sun come up. It was 7.00am before we stopped playing, and 7.45am before we got to sleep. I feel like shit now :), but I don’t mind – it’s holidays and it can’t be as bad as a hangover.

28
Nov 98
Sat

Headphones

Got a great pair of Koss headphones for the computer. Helluva lot better than the crappy speakers I have. Headphones sound heaps better than any speaker you can get at the same price.

8
Sep 98
Tue

WC Secret Ops

Time to begin downloading the mega-file. Secret ops is a Wing Commander add-on, basically, fully downloadable from the net at www.secretops.com. It’s like 100 megs.

3
Sep 98
Thu

Sex in UO

Who says there’s no sex in UO? Check the bottom of the sidebar :).

2
Sep 98
Wed

Get Medieval

Get Medieval will be a game released soon that is based upon the old, old Gauntlet game (you know, insert more money for more health? and you’d keep inserting money until you ran out, reaching ridiculous levels? heh – I’ve got a rom of it). Looks good… I’ll be keeping an eye out on it.

23
Aug 98
Sun

MM6

Finally I’m back to playing Might & Magic 6. Looks like I’m going to be disappearing into Enroth for the next two days :). Just loaded the version 1.1 patch.

21
Aug 98
Fri

Total Annihilation

News flash: Mozzie/Mock takes ignorance to new levels.
Okay this is the story. We’re (Requiem, Mozzie and I) having a TA game. Mozzie suggests a “Krogoth Bash” (go straight for krogoths and a truce till they are built then pit krogoth against krogoth). Requiem disagrees strongly, but then changes his mind saying he will agree to a Krogoth Bash if we play on Metal Isles (which of course are four metal isles separated by vast expanses of water which renders Krogoths 90% useless). Get this… Mozzie agrees – oblivious to all this. Requiem even said it twice… “Krogoth bash on Metal isles.”

About 5 minutes into the game Mozzie says this: “Just meet in the middle and go for each other.”

About 10 minutes into the game I take a Valkyrie and steal his commander which is lathing away by the krogoth gantry. He doesn’t notice. Another five minute later and he says “Gimme back my commander!”

Half an hour later we’re telling him Krogoths can nuke.
Mozzie: “Can Krogoths nuke?”
Requiem: “Didn’t you know?”
Inferno: “Yeah”
Requiem: “Just press Contol-D to launch”
Mozzie: “Nice try.”

Okay so we didn’t slip it past him, but, afterwards in ICQ chat we kept insisting the Krogoth could launch nukes. He asked “How???” And I said “Well Control-D will self-destruct your Krogoth, but it will also launch a nuke from it… sort of like a sacrifice.” And… he fell for that. Can’t wait till we have our next game… “Yeah I self-destructed the Krogoth… where’s the friggin nuke?????” Muahahahahaha… that’s true stupidity/gullibility. Slack but fun :).

18
Aug 98
Tue

You’re joking…

I got an e-mail from some person who’s running a “UO” (Ultima Online for the uninitiated) Bank… they will convert REAL WORLD MONEY into Ultima Online GOLD PIECES (1 to 2 US dollars per 1000 virtual gold pieces)… The organisation/person running it is Russian, however, so I am really suspicious (even though I don’t even play UO). With the recent currency devaluation of the Rouble (hahaha Kisliakov! Might have to bring rich Chernih in to bail Russia out — again :), however, I can see the thought behind the idea. Here’s the link : http://uobank.express.ru/.

28
Jun 98
Sun

MM6

I got Mandate! I decided to get the limited edition one for an extra $20, which includes MM1 to MM5, and some el cheapo “strategy guide”.

16
Jun 98
Tue

TA: Core Contingency

Got the Core Contingency expansion pack for Total Annihilation yesterday. Two words: It Rocks. Love the new maps and new units. Opens up a whole new world in the way of multiplayer. If they hold a Landay 3 at the beginning of next year, it’d be a dream to have a ten player TA game over IPX.

8
Jun 98
Mon

That looks good…

LucasArts is releasing, this Australian Spring, Force Commander, a Star Wars RTS. It looks particularly appealing because it uses a 3D engine (like Total Annihilation), and not sprites (like StarCraft), and actually requires a 3D accelerator (unlike Total Annihilation). It also allows perspective changing due to it being in 3D. I forecast a game in the not too distant future to be fully 3D – you can command from high, and zoom in down to the battlefield level – something like SimCity 3000, except in a warzone. And my prediction that 3D accelerators will become an essential part of any computer, like CD-ROM drives have, is coming true.

StarCraft Sites Merge

If you look at all the big StarCraft sites, there’ll be a notice on them saying they’re merging – S|U, SC.org, TWOS, S17 etc. That’ll make it easier. I hope this site is something really special. Site is called StarCraft Legacy, at http://www.sclegacy.com/. Last time I saw it (today), I thought it neede a bit more colour, but the layout was quite nice.

29
May 98
Fri

E3

E3 started, and for the latest news, visit Gamespot’s site at http://www.e3news.com/. Ascension is looking really good. OGR coverage at : http://www.ogr.com/specials/e398/28e3pix.html.

23
May 98
Sat

StarCraft Music

I bagged myself some MP3s from a site today. I got the entire SC soundtrack in MP3s (the next best thing to having CD Music). Anyway it turns out that the duration of each race’s music score is roughly:

Terrans – 13m 26s
Protoss – 14m 30s
Zerg – 14m 49s

Looks like the Terrans were gipped of one minute of music :) Well that’s the stupid irrelevant piece of info for the day. Now I listen to the Starcraft music while I do my school work :) I gotta find a CD burner to burn all my MP3s onto CDs…

StarCraft Maps

Buy StarCraft!!! Anyway, Blizzard’s releasing new Ladder maps (Scums) every Friday. See their site for details. There’s also something going on about Station 17… click here to find out.

6
May 98
Wed

Tetrinet

I don’t believe how I got everyone hooked onto Tetrinet (download here). It started yesterday when my cousin was taking a break during uni, and I was at home. We got desperate (he didn’t bring TA along :), and so I suggested Tetrinet. As expected, his reaction was “Huh? TETRIS??!?”. We were too desperate, though, and we ended up playing it anyway. By the end, he was quite enjoying it. Over the last two days I’ve been passing the URL to everyone and must’ve got about 7-8 people hooked on it :), maybe not hooked, but at least playing it. I’ve also had to explain how to play 8 times, which is quite a bugger, but I type fast so it doesn’t matter all that much.

29
Mar 98
Sun

Battlezone

Got a copy of Battlezone from my cousin (thanks a million!) as a 2-month in advance birthday present. It’s totally awesome, sort of like a cross between Heavy Gear/Strike Force Centauri where you can also control the battle from an overhead view… see Activision for a better description :)

Starcraft goes GOLD!

Finally!! It should arrive in Australia within a month, or even a fortnight. Read it at Blizzard.

22
Feb 98
Sun

Quake II Point Release (3.12) Out

It came out a couple days ago. I can’t give you a URL but it’ll be all over the web. Try www.bluesnews.com or www.quake2.com or something similar. It’s got co-op mode etc. etc.

6
Feb 98
Fri

OzDRL

Hmm… a bit of tension in the OzDRL forum…

30
Jan 98
Fri

StarCraft … but no Kali?

I got sent mail today from ASTRO. He’s put a post on the battle.net forum boards about how bad it would be if Blizzard tries to block out Kali support (possible by bloating the IPX packets or something, as the Internet is slower than a LAN). View his post, and my post :).

29
Jan 98
Thu

Ultima Online

Got told by several people that Ultima Online’s out in Australia. I’m still not getting it until/if an Aussie server gets online. Haha, heard from my friend that the player char (PC) population was way too high, and the result was “lynch mobs” of 20+ people wading into dungeons waiting at respawning points. Just imagine, snake sticks its head out from behind a rock and gets hit by four clubs, seven swords, two lightning bolts, five arrows and a fireball :).



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