Monday, 31 October 2011


Fine, because it's All Hallow's Eve, and that's supposed to mean something to our society for... some reason, let's talk Zombies. A lot of vid/podcasts are talking about, and they are certainly pervading the computer game sphere at the moment, so...

Zombies are supposed to be a metaphor, for consumerism, or... all sorts of other things. Maybe they were intended that way at the beginning, I didn't really see it. Still don't see it now, and, frankly, I'm not sure they are intended as a metaphor for anything any more. Dead humans, the fright of death not being the end, of having to kill your friend because he now wants to eat your brains... okay, that last one is a possible area that is still addressed, but moreso in movies than in games because you can't make the player suddenly care about some person your character knew who died and now is back, whereas in a movie you can have characters care about others.

But, the point of this all is... zombies aren't anything other than zombies any more. They are simply a cheap source of enemy that can be bashed, shot, and otherwise killed in amusing and hilarious ways for entertainment, don't carry any stigma for picking on minorities (claims about Resident Evil 4 notwithstanding), and easier to have as an explanation than bringing in aliens because they are still human shaped, and don't we all want to kill other humans?

But this simplicity of concept is what makes them dull. When I hear 'zombies are involved', my already latent high disinterest/apathy kicks up orders of magnitude. All too often zombies are simply a subset of the survivor genre, and that bores me as well. Seeing someone trek miles for a turnip, while bitching with others who also want the turnip, doesn't scream exciting entertainment.

Now we have zombies that a killable fodder, vampires that are sparkly sex machines, and ghosts that... still don't do much beyond moving things around to scare people. Can we get some better supernatural please?


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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Battle of the hard drive

According to my computer, it only has 20 Gig left. (Huh, a whole 20 Gig! I remember when floppies were excessive storage... Hell, I remember my first computer, the Timex Sinclair 1000, which was just like the ZX81! But where the ZX81 only had 1K of base memory, the Timex Sinclair 1000 had a whole 2K! Yeah, suck it ZX81! Ah, but how I was envious of my cousins with their Spectrum with actual colour and ability to do proper sounds...)

Where was I? Oh, yes, 20 Gig. This is, as it is known, of course, a lie. I have far more than that, only the computer hasn't bothered to delete temp files. Moreover, having seen this before, it won't delete temp files until I give it room. Yes, it will only delete files when it has room to delete them...

Huh? You must have me confused with someone who doesn't think that is stupid.

(Yeah, I could run a defrag program, but where's the fun in that?)

Now, I do have a fair few programs to watch and clear out, so it's not like I'm only going to have 20 Gig for a while, but that isn't reason to complain. (Really, it is complaining about having less than 10% free.)

So, on the one hand, I have plenty of room! On the other hand, three shows later, and there's a gig gone straight away...


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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Warned Spoilers - HL2 ep 10

And so it continues, and will probably for a few more days. Watching this, and... ah, the mammaries... no, wait, that was Duke Nukem Forever...

The bridge run... my first go I got through fine, but then fell off the cliff at the other end. I think I took a break, because it took me a while to get through again. I was pushing the button to accelerate, yet couldn't speed through again. Was I not early enough? Did I need to aim for the vanishingly small gap? Oh... the OTHER mouse button! Right, that works...

The fight, yeah, I parked the car properly. And in the fight, I thought 'hey, there are plenty of health packs for me around, I know, I'll just head on in and take the damage then grab the packs and be fine.' So, there's that approach. (Although I did start by crouching behind cover more than my compatriots did.)

When I first encountered the two guys, I stumbled out onto the sand. Oops. Reload and try again. Oh, he dies anyway. Oh well. I can't recall if I knew there was a badge for not triggering the antlions, but I did start out trying to do that... but, I think like most people, RUN FOR IT!


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Friday, 28 October 2011

Warned Spoilers - HL2 ep 9

So with Spoiler Warning doing Half-Life 2 again, and since I've now played it, this has me wanting to comment on how I played. First of all...

As Valve intended, I did get the cross-bow and sniped. I liked that weapon. There was a section later, in the city, where sniping really helped clear out the area before the group and I went in.

I also like the roller mines. Not that annoying, sort of cute really, and punting them with the Gravity Gun was fun!

Ah, the bridge... now, when I played, this took me far longer than the guys here breezed through. One issue was that I never went up on the bridge to begin with, so I had no idea there was a barrier to take down, nor that the cord went along. Instead I went onto the path, hearing the zombie, and then followed it along to under the bridge. Ooh, items! Onwards... and, hey, I can get out here. Let's see what's out there... Wow, up high, don't want to fall. (From memory, I did it all in one go without dying once, amazing.) However, for a long while I wasn't sure that I was supposed to go this way. Was this just a bonus, optional area? Was I going out of the way? There were items... oh, and enemies. This had to be an actual area to pay attention to... right? But, yeah, like Josh, waste rockets, and race for the crate near the end.

Not knowing that I was going the right way added a level of tension. It could easily be a set up to let me kill myself by doing something stupid, which was very easy to do, lots of opportunity for that. And, because it was an unknown, in that it seemed to be a forbidden area, that did make it more fun to complete.

Still want to drop into the ocean just to see what happens though...


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Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Road! The Bird! Street Hawk!

I remember Street Hawk from my youth. It was one of those shows about a man out by himself, aided with some mechanical device. Like Knightrider. Like M.A.N.T.I.S. (which I'm proud to say I never saw a whole episode of). And like Viper later. And, recapturing the joys of youth, I grabbed this when I found out it was available on DVD (from Street Hawk Online).

Boy, it didn't age well. Street Hawk is an all terrain attack bike, yadda yadda, basically a suped-up motorcycle with guns and a laser... a quite amazing laser it has to be said. The DVD set has the original pilot, which I didn't watch (having watched the actual pilot) and one of the changes that is pointed out is that the laser, in the original, was blue instead of red... ! Yeah! Take that network decision! (Admittedly, red would be easier to see than blue.) And I think the laser was the first of its kind, in that it must have been psychically controlled. With a push of a button, a little gun swings out, and then another push fires the laser... which can pin-point cut through door hinges, disable cars, or scare someone who's running around. Umm... how? It was only one button! And then there's the episode where 'you can't shoot that high' means he needs to do a wheelie, whereas in a later episode he shoots higher!

Anyway, the point of the series is the motorcycle, and so we get a lot of scenes of Jessie (or the stunt man) riding around on the bike. When it is in HyperThrust mode, the camera speeds up to show him rocketting around (when the camera is close on the helmet) or slowing down when in longer shots to make him appear faster... as you do. I found myself fastforwarding through those scenes as nothing happened except padding, and, indeed, in scene in which there was background music was dialogue light so I didn't need to slow down for those either.

Now, while the plots didn't expand the nature of story-telling, they were decent, although every episode ended with the tag humour moment, at which point it would have been entirely appropriate to bring in the 'wah wah' trumpet. (But that's hardly the sole fault of this show.) There were only 13 episodes, and then the series was cut. On the DVD set is a talking head segment with some of the main cast circa 2010, and they said they were willing to come back if the series was remade, perhaps as webisodes? Um... I'm not seeing a lot of hurry for that to happen.

As ever, this is another case when memories were fonder when they were vague.


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Wednesday, 26 October 2011


So, Google Buzz is dying. Anyone shocked? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

No. But, of course, Google has already unveiled its next attempt to get more people than Facebook, namely Google+, which excites people because their mother won't use it. (If you don't get that, make sure to read the roll over text... and why aren't you reading the roll over text? That's a whole other level of comic enjoyment right there!)

And yes, I have now connected myself to G+. Um...

The first thing, it really wants me to connect up with 10 people. It's judging me, saying I'm not a good enough person that I don't have 10 people in my circles. You know what... screw you, G+. If I can't have a proper G+ experience with less than 10 people, perhaps that's your problem, not mine.

Number two, this becomes another place to check for content. Really, like I don't have enough feeds and such to follow? One thing I like about Buzz is that when I go to Gmail, it lets me know that there are Buzzes to check out, so I think to go there. I don't think to click through to Google+, and it doesn't want to remind me, so it's not getting my attention.

Moreover, I'd set it up to it went to a null circle of friends so people could opt to follow me, unlike the current situation, in which someone spams a circle, regardless if them wanting the posts. Yes, you can block them, but how about you make it the receiver's choice to get them in the first place?

Also, this blog is my main connection from me to other people. As yet, I haven't seen any way to post (at least even a link) these blog entries to my Google+ self if people want to follow me that way. I've looked around, but nothing yet. Maybe in the future, but G+ isn't catering to my needs at the moment.

Additionally, in general, Google+ has a fair way to go to become an established media. At the moment, people are making a big noise about the circles, but back in the old days, we called those email lists. And I'm not sure that this will have any more staying power than the other projects Google tried. (Remember Waves?)

Finally, entirely appropriately and topical, here's a LoadingReadyRun video about social media:


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Monday, 24 October 2011

Inevitable Sequels

Well, we knew they were coming, so here they are...

Wrong Turn produced... Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings. Er, beginnings? Not so much. There's an opening scene set in the 1970s, but other than that its modern day as a group of idiots... I mean, college kids go out for a weekend of skiing and sex (we get early scenes of the latter too), only to end up at the institution established at the beginning of the film, where the three freaks are now there to pick them off one by one. As they do. There isn't a lot of overlap with the previous movies, mostly the freaks are similar to previous ones, but this could easily be another series, or independent, and you wouldn't really be able to tell the difference. Standard fare really. Big names... no-one I recognised.

Hellraiser produced... Hellraiser: Revelations. (You know you're in trouble when not even Doug Bradley wants to return to the key role.) I'm going to spoil the big revelations... there isn't one! At least, not as relates to the Hellraiser aspect. This series has always teetered on various edges of what it wants to be. In this case, we have two families where their sons went to Mexico and had a wild time, and now they are finding out the full price of the trip. This movie does fall more in line with actually having Pinhead turn up and have an active role, and at only 75 minutes it doesn't drag... but it doesn't do anything special either. Don't know why they bothered. Big names... again, not really.


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Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Fading

So, a big thing at the moment is a new supernatural drama from the BBC, The Fades. It took me a while to get around to watching any of this, although British and supernatural, that same combination last produced Being Human, which bored me entirely.

And, to be honest, this series started out with a similar yawn inspiring pace. This is a problem British supernatural has, in that it now feels everything must be realistic, and to this end we must have scene upon scene of people interacting with each other about minutiae in their lives, and you forget there's any supernatural element at all! The first two episodes clock that nicely enough.

The conceit is that when people die (and this series skirts the issue of religion entirely, despite one of the characters being a priest) they either 'ascend' (which implies heaven/Christianity, because we can't offend that viewing demographic) or they stick around. And some of the ones that have stuck around are getting right ticked off about it, and decided that enough is enough, it's time to do something about it.

And so episode three eventually starts taking things in a new direction. However, by episode five, you'd be forgiven for thinking we'd skipped genres entirely! (I won't divulge more details in case you want to watch this series yourself.) This does keep it from being a retread of other supernatural cliches, however the new genre does raise some questions about its own internal realism...

This leaves episode six to come. I've seen the first five, one left, so I'll need to watch that. However... I'm not rating this as a 'much see' series. If you have it handy and feel like watching it, fine. However, if you skip it... you won't feel any emptiness inside...


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Saturday, 22 October 2011

StartMeUp Dot Com

As I have an interest in the computer industry, especially the history thereof, I was interesting in seeing Startup.Com as a look into an example of a bursting dot com bubble.

And this movie starts from go to whoa. The crew was with the people for two years, not sure of how the ending was going to be, and that comes across in the movie. The first half is about setting up the company, which was about a website that would enable people to have a one-stop internet portal to dealing with the government, particularly paying off fines, etc. (That should be the first clue this would have trouble, this still hasn't worked, and this is from the perspective of ten years later!) By which, I mean we see them talking to various groups about getting money, and nothing about the website at all. It isn't until the website is about to go live that we actually see it! Until then, it's all corporate talk. After the go point... it's more corporate talk as the two friends fracture over the future of the company and trying to run it. Not the first time that's happened. And once again it's about the story of the two guys and their personal interaction, not about the company at all.

(Yes, one could say that these two are the company, but the rest of the company still exists without them around. You can tell the story of Apple without talking solely about Steve Jobs, go read West of Eden.)

Anyway, if you want to pin-point why this company failed... I'd say it simply got too big for the people in charge to handle. Having read various computer histories, that's typical. But as a general example of the dot com bubble... eh, I wouldn't say so. Then again, I haven't see a lot about it, so maybe this is typical. If it is... then the dot com burst was like any other burst.

Not a particularly great movie if you want company history. If you just want to see two guys doing their thing without really getting a full context of, well, anything, then watch this movie.


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Friday, 21 October 2011

Kung Fu Panda Panda

Sequel time, with this follow up to a movie that wasn't made by Pixar. (Yes, there are a few non-Pixar animating studios, but let's be honest. Animated movies fall into two categories 'Pixar' and 'non-Pixar' and there isn't much point differentiating the latter. But if we must, this is the better of the non-Pixar studios, and generally delivers good films... even if they aren't Pixar.)

In this movie, Po moves from being the Chosen One of Legend to being the Chosen One of Prophecy, and must come into his powers to defeat the evil... hang on, no that was the first movie... no, wait, it's the second one as well. Although in this movie, we don't get many, many, many hilarious (honest, guv, they were hilarious, the movie clearly thought so) sequences of Po trying to learn kung fu. Instead we get several fight scenes of the Five against the same enemies time and again. And the last battle, where we all see what was coming finally came-ing. Oh, and there's back story, but aside from really over-the-topping creating a cute baby panda, we all know what happened, so need to wait for Po to catch up to the audience.

Lots of names, as ever in non-Pixar movies (seriously, Pixar advertise their movies as 'where this plot happens', non-Pixar advertise their movies with 'look who we got to do a voice!'), but aside from Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Gary Oldman, the rest is just continued stunt casting from the first film. (Which, to be honest, I don't remember that much of.) And the three leads were fine...ish. Jack cared, Gary went over-the-top as usual, and Angelina seemed to phone it in.

More like 'here's a filler in the series' rather than 'here's an exciting sequel'. We can only hope the inevitable third movie won't crash and burn everything.


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Thursday, 20 October 2011

SJA: The Man Who Never Was

That's it. The last ever SJA. Little bit trad, definitely not a downer ending.

Finally we have the great coming together that was foretold in times past, the meeting of... Luke and Sky! And it goes about as predictably as you'd expect. They don't particularly hit it off, feel rather uncomfortable, Sarah Jane seems to show favouritism to one, but eventually they band together and are strong for it. To be honest though, there was hardly any way to deal with that that wouldn't feel cliched on some level.

As for the main plot, there's a lot of padding. Just show the man's a hologram already! We already saw it in the trailer. There is a degree of twist over who the monster is, but once that is revealed, Gareth Roberts really pounds the heartstring tugging moments. A little too much. Fortunately the slapstick stays on just the good side of funny, but Harrison and the security guards fall victim to being forced to be incompetent. (And I'm wondering if a larger arc was planned with the alien slave trade angle.)

However, five main characters are a few too many to service. This cast is split into Clive/Rani and Luke/Sky, and it's clear that some of those pairs would work better as a single person. There's a reason most shows don't have teams that big.

This is the middle rated story of this season, and a typical style of story to end on. Farewell, Sarah Jane Adventures.

Next time: No more. This series has had highs and lows, definitely prefer some episodes to others. It did have some trouble working out just what it wanted to be versus being a 'children's series'. Elisabeth Sladen did good returning to head it up, and the stories will go on... forever.


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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Cars Cars

Sequel time, with this movie being even worse received than the generic movie the first one was. Can't say I'm completely surprised.

In plot A, Mater is an unwitting spy (I'm sure there's a TV Trope for that, but I can never find those things on that website) who is pulled in to save the day, and live up to his unexplored potential... of complete idiocy that happens to succeed in spite of himself (another trope there). In plot B, McQueen learns a heart warm lesson about friendship (trope number three). And there's some intersection of plot, but not a lot.

Fine, Pixar movies don't really bring the boat out in terms of plots, but they do present them well. This works mediocrely, and so fails their usual high standards of... pretty much every other movie other than Cars. I don't know why they can't get it working for this series, but there's just a level of averageness that would be brilliant for other studios, but we've come to expect more from them.

And this isn't even addressing the 'lemon/ugly = evil' aspect, nor the 'alternative fuels will not work' or 'Big Oil' conspiracy buy in. Good to know the people at Pixar really want to address stereotypes...

If you liked Cars... you might like this. It's a bad Pixar movie... and not that much better as a normal movie.


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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Alien v Cowboy

Finally got around watching that movie we'll all been waiting for: James Bond vs Indiana Jones... (well, actually take two, as in take one, Indy was Indy.)

The story goes... well, you already know the story. There's cowboys. And then there are aliens, from coming the south, taking their money and their women... and their men and anything and everything else they want. And... that's about it. There's a stupid plot device whereby James Bond gets the plot gun to kill the aliens, but otherwise it's cowboys and aliens.

Or, to put it another way, orange and blue. Movies posters have always gone down that way. And this is an entire movie of it. Cowboys are always in orange, and the aliens are always in blue... and there are very few other colours in the movie. Oy veh!

Actually, to be honest, the best parts of this movie are the bits not involving the aliens. There is actual character interaction of the characters, and this is far more engaging that the shooting and the CGI. I'm not saying they are doing anything new, story wise, but it did bring me in more than seeing flying craft or blue filters on everything. They should have done more of that. (See, when it's done well, I want more. It is rarely done well.)

In all, I'm not surprised by the IMDB rating. It's a fair assessment of a movie that should have lived up to what we had in our heads when we first heard "Cowboys and Aliens".


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Monday, 17 October 2011

Yet Another Not Another Movie

Spoof movies tread dangerous ground. Oft times they are going for the joke, but ultimately rely on the audience's knowledge of what they are taking off. Sometimes they will actually try for a plot that will stand independent of/allow for the spoofing, but most often it is cut&paste scenes from other movies.

This movie goes for the plot approach. It is a movie about creating a spoof movie, and as such we have the characters of the movie studio, and the movie is more about them trying to make a movie rather than being a spoof of something else. However, there are two basic flaws.

One, the 'plot' of the spoof movie making doesn't happen until half-way through the movie. This is supposed to be a driver, according to the various descriptions, and yet it doesn't crop up until half of it has gone. The time is filled with 'character' moments of them struggling to make movies or find the next movie to make, and occasionally broken up by spoof segments when the main character falls asleep. (Seriously.)

However, flaw two is a biggie here. It isn't funny. I don't care if it's supposed to be a big deal that the movie is spoofing spoofing, or if it is a spoof itself, or whatever, at the core it is supposed to be a comedy. It isn't. The main lead is one of the writers, which, unless they are already a big name, is a sure sign of 'these guys came up with an idea they thought was funny and went with it so they could star in it' (another lead is also a writer) rather than 'here is a funny movie in which the main lead happens to be one of the writers'. The only moment I was amused was in their take off of Armageddon, otherwise... nothing.

I'm guessing Chevy Chase, Burt Reynolds, Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones signed up because they had nothing better to do?

Terrible, terrible movie.


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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

The attack on Dare is on! The gorillas won't know what hit them! And hit, we do! We track one person down and show them the error of their ways! ... not to mention exciting farming and sewer walking.

I knew this would happen. We wanted action, and ended up with more talking! Fine, yes, we got more information, and found out a better attack pattern, but talk we did. Still forced some action at the end, as some people need putting down. And because of that, we went long in this session!

Hear the enlongated Game 44. Rapidshare. Hotfile.


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Page Eight

A British movie. A good start. Intelligence services, ooh, exciting. We all know Spooks. And the head liner is Bill Nighy. Fantastic! The whole is Page Eight.

A report comes to light that reveals important secrets, if you can make it to page eight of the report. And because of that... frankly, no idea. I had a hard time paying attention. Bill Nighy! Micheal Gambon! Rachel Weisz! Ralph Fiennes! Alice Krige! This should be a great movie! And yet, it takes over an hour for the movie to really ramp up to anything approaching actual dramatic drama. And this movie is only just over an hour and a half! The bulk of the movie is, well... domestic. We find out that Johnny Walker (that's what the character's name sounds like, but it isn't) was married a few times, has a daughter who barely talks to him, and is suspicious of his neighbour...

Boring! Actually boring movie! This is supposed to be sexy, exciting British spy thriller! Instead it is boring, dull, dreary British soap opera, with less excitement.

The director/writer has said that if this is successful, this will be the first of a trilogy of Johnny Walker movies. With the current rating on IMDB, I'm doubting that will come to pass. Not at all sorry about that.


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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Meet my lecturer

Here's the lecturer for the course I'm taking. The course a lot of people are taking. 70,000 people! As for me, I'm completely on top of assignments, and have a month before the mid-year exam.

Still time to get in on this if you want (and I presume the other courses as well). The first assignment is due 23rd Oct, so don't think you've missed out. (And, worse case, you can still watch all the videos, etc, even if you don't get the non-certified "Statement of Accomplishment".)


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Thursday, 13 October 2011

SJA: The Curse of Clyde Langer

Okay, so I was rather delayed in my review last time, so here's this review as it happened. Once it's revealed, I do like how 'Clyde Langer' was cursed. Nice take on it!

And, I will admit, nice episode! Part One develops in a rather dark way, it seems cheerful then slowly turns on Clyde. Now, admittedly, it does take time to repeat the same scene (turn on Clyde) again and again, but Daniel Anthony plays it brilliantly, and when it's his mum... okay, we can all see where it's going in terms of how Part Two will wrap everything up, but it's still a damn fine Part One!

Part Two keeps it up, with the hole of Clyde having an impact, but the peoples are unable to work out why. Except for Sky, who is... alien, I presume. And thus becomes the only one (precociously of course) who can help solve things. And they all come together by the power of friendship!

Phil Ford delivers a great script after the fizzler of the opener. The Night Dragon was made out to be more of a thing (for a future epsiode?) than actually ended up being the case. ("No-one says they are leaving, then they are gone, on the Night Dragon." Oooo... only, not really.)

What does let the episode down is the CGI. The totem pole looks great as a practical item. But as soon as it needs to animate/become computer generated, it collapses into crapiness. Are the Mill just not trying, or not have enough time, or what? (Did they just done have the same designs as the build team?) And the sound. At the end, the music completely overwhelms the dialogue. Did they not want anyone to know what was going on?

Next time: Looks like next time could be a big finish! And considering it's the last ever Sarah Jane Adventure, it better be!


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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

SJA: Sky

Well, there are only three stories this season, and that's it. This could be extremely bittersweet... if the SJA team was aware of what was going on and wrote to that. On the other hand, we have story one: Sky.

In this story, an advanced alien race comes to Earth, and develops a young child that looks like a normal Earth child in order to mass murder and kill others. Only Sarah Jane Smith steps in and instead adopts the child and now has a family...

...hang on, yes, you could be forgiven for thinking I just wrote down the plot to Invasion of the Bane. Because I did. However, it is also the plot to Sky. With Tommy Knight not able to be in the series, they need to replace him with another character, so they do. With repeating the basic set up from the first episode... not that they entirely did. Instead we get a strong evil female ... yes, it is different, I tell you ... and a metal guy that can go invisible, and they are in a big war, and we know this because they told us this, it's not like we get to see it or anything. Interestingly, the woman (Miss Miles... spelt in an alien way, apparently) has mind control powers, although she doesn't use them on SJ... or the kids... or anyone else beyond the first group of people.

You might be able to tell that I'm not super excited by this episode, and that's because it wasn't very good. With the introduction of Sky we have another 'cute kid' to deal with. While we only have two more episodes, here's hoping the next two make her bearable.

Next time: Either an alt-verse version where instead of SJ herself, Clive is removed from the timeline, or magic. Either way, I'm sure his good friends will come to recognise him as the friend he is. 'Cos that's always the way it goes down...


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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Old Bank Arcade Clock

This is what the Old Bank Arcade Clock does every hour. Audio is low, so if you are interested, come to the Old Bank Arcade in Wellington!


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Monday, 10 October 2011

Duke Nuked'em Forever

Update: I completed the game!

So how long did it take?
Let's see, according to Steam, 13 hours, but that did include some replay (mentioned below).

But... did you cheat?
...Yep. But, not immediately. I did give it a go uncheating, but when it stopped being fun, I kicked the cheat on. Oddly, given how I implemented the cheats, DNF wasn't supposed to register achievements, but it still gave me some. I think I might be able to cheese that to get all of them...

Any particularly hard parts?
There were a few segments that were 'Do It Again, Stupid' that really ticked me off, and ultimately caused me to start cheating. And then there were the long drawn out boss fights in which I might get most of the way through, then die and need to start again (some I cheated for, some I didn't).

How did you like the ending? (No spoilers, bitch!)
Meh. Although they tried to build up the story, the final battle was just like any other moment really. Nothing new happened, just another boss fight. And the story just didn't excite me that much.

But, are you going to replay it?
Actually... I already did! After a short break, I kicked it off again, Hard Mode, cheating and going around killing things without worrying about it. This is the fun it's supposed to be! And it did mean I could piece the story together easier, so picked up a few connections I missed earlier. However, then the game crashed, so I'm not kicking it off again just yet...

How about DLC?
There's DLC a'comin'... but I'm not interested in it. Looks like it's a form of editor and some multiplayer maps. Not for me.

Not as much fun as it should have been. While I would happy take my money back from purchasing it, the replay fun should last for a while.


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Sunday, 9 October 2011

Half-Lifed 2

Update: I completed the game!

So how long did it take?
Let's see, according to Steam, 16 hours, but that did include pausing while I did other stuff. At times, it felt like it too.

But... did you cheat?
I had to look a few things up to see where to go, but otherwise it was all me. Okay, yes, easy mode, but still.

Any particularly hard parts?
The worse part, in some ways, was when I had a squad. My own incompetence I could deal with, but now I had NPCs to worry about. That's what caused me to look the few bits up, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to lead my crew in one way or go back to another. Oh, and they died. A lot. I tried to save them, even reloading, but towards the end, I let them fall like the computer spawned pawns they were.

How did you like the ending? (No spoilers, bitch!)
To be honest... once I got the final gun (yes, you know the one I mean)... it was too easy! The Strider caused a little problem (got down to 17 health!), but otherwise the only problems I had was when I kept falling off things.
As for the story content... um... I'll need to play it again, spread it out over too much stuff, couldn't really take it in. A bit odd who the final 'bad' was that you fought, considering that person wasn't built up as such, just a puppet. And then the very last moments... would having played Half-Life 1 made that any better? That was just odd.

But, are you going to replay it?
I'm not burning to, but I no doubt will.

How about DLC?
I'm not aware of any, however I still have Episode 1, 2 and Lost Coast to play sometime.

Of course I liked it! Everyone likes it!


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Saturday, 8 October 2011

TW: The Men Who Sold The World

There is a common theme to this set of books, very much dealing with the fallout of Torchwood no longer being around. The latest book involves Americans, strange as it's not like Torchwood would ever involve itself with America. The Men Who Sold The World by Guy Adams. (Spoiler alert: the world is not sold.)

As this book features Rex (with minor cameos from Esther), it's more action orientated than the other two novels. Although any action would beat First Born. Certainly it's all go chase as some bad guys have weapons (from Torchwood) and Rex is on the run to regain them. While not encountering anything to do with Torchwood in any way. Or, indeed, as it happens, encountering the bad guys. It is nearly two different plotlines as the bad guys do their thing, Rex does his thing, and at best they wave at each other.

Still, as a more action paced story, this does truck along nicely, and is a decent read. The character of Mr Wynter is... odd, in that one would think he'd be more notable in the Doctor Who universe. Then again, Chapter Nineteen would definitely cause problems... actually, it took me a chapter or two to realise what Chapter Nineteen was doing, but I liked that, even if it did continue to undermine Rex being any kind of hero.

Not huge on plot even if fast of food. Rex is underused... but this still rates the better of this set of books.


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Friday, 7 October 2011


There was a surprise demonstration of some dancing at Wellington Railway Station. I think the people responsible at the station were surprised and all as well, and so the demonstration was cut short.

Anyway, I happened to have my camera with me, so video! (I was waiting for someone, which is why I didn't move to a better position.)


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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Reel Steal

It's a Hugh Jackman movie where he gets to dealing with fighting and CGI creations... and it's not X-men!

To quote the movie summary from the Readings website: A future-set story where robot boxing is a popular sport and centered on a struggling promoter (Jackman) who thinks he's found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top, he also discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.

Scanning... struggling promoter... 11-year-old son... yeah, I think we can see where this movie is going. And to be honest, this movie didn't see a predictable movie plot point it didn't like. All too often I was predicting what was going to happen... and there it was!

Fortunately, there is robot fighting! Because movies about human boxers just end up with the unpleasant sight of two thugs beating the crap out of each other, so let's show robots beating the fluid out of each other! And the fights are good. To be honest, if someone said "Yeah, we built those robots, and they really did that"... well, I wouldn't believe them, but this movie does make one wish it was true.

Hugh Jackman gets it easy in this movie as a deadbeat dad. Because he isn't all that deadbeat. He strikes up an immediately nice (if dickish) relationship with Dakota Goya. And there's Evangeline Lilly to round out the family unit. Yes, there's the predictable moment where that predictable plot point happens, but he spins around so quickly you would hardly believe they bothered. (And the other star of the movie is... product placement! Just count the occurrences!)

Watch this movie for the enjoyable robot fighting. Miss it for everything else.


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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Vigil the Huntering

After Sunday in my shop I turn to some domestic chores. However, at one point I get contacted by Robert who wants to know if I have lead boxes, or am willing to melt down bullets to form said boxes. I hang up on him.

He wants to put the amulet in a lead box, so goes buys some fishing sinkers, then heads over to the doctor's house, suspecting he's been followed. However, when he gets there, the doctor's just arriving to find his house is open, so they call the police. While waiting, they play catch 'em with the follower, to find out its a reporter from the paper. After not convincing her of their stories about the train situation, she leaves, and the doctor decides to go ahead and enter his house. It's been ransacked, presumably for the amulet. Not wanting to stay there, they decide to come bother me, and use my tools to make an actual box. More annoyingly, they want to stay at my place for the night.

Meantime, JB gets back from his night of tagging to find large goons waiting for him. He does a runner, but is quickly chased down by one goon, and a fight ensues. A rather one sided fight, as the goon is more powered that JB expected, even given the train situation. He's taken to a room somewhere, where a voice, who claims to be the owner of the club Travesty, wants a word with all of us and invites us to come over Monday night for information sharing. (Tricky, as we don't know anything.) JB is taken back home, but decides the best plan is to wake us up and tell us this straight away.

Fortunately, we do get some sleep that night, and Monday sees me back in my gun shop, with another outing planned for the night. The only question is... do I arrange to have back up handy?


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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Back to School

Me am learning fings. Recently, Stanford University announced running online courses for people all over the world. (Not for a degree or anything, you get a certificate of "could have passed this if they were an actual student".) Partly as an experiment to see how it works. One popular class is on Artificial Intelligence. Another is on Machine Learning. Both fine courses.

I did think about taking all of them. However, since I don't know what the workload will be like, and want to start simple, and hopefully they will be offering this again (they've already got everything set up, so they should be able to), I went for something relevant to my work. I'm taking Introduction to Databases.

At the moment, one big project that I'm working on is going through a lot of design stages and building stuff, all related to databases, and I'm interacting a lot with IT architects and developers and such. While they are great at explaining themselves when they need to, it can only help if I can follow along when they start getting technically. Especially as it impacts on the work I'm doing (everyone needs to interact with databases for their jobs).

So far, I've done my first batch of assignments already! Woo! I'm on my way!

If you're interesting, you might still be able to get in on a course or two (or three), so take a look.


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Monday, 3 October 2011

DW: 6.13

So, that's it. Everything is over. Obviously, spoilers in this review. I will say that I didn't pick that question. I went for the philosophical bent of "Why is there something instead of nothing?", which is an interesting question and indeed might bring silence if the answer is "there isn't." But, spoilers here, that's not the way Moffat went.

Okay, let's get two things out of the way. The obvious out (at least, the obvious possible out) was signalled in the 'Previously On' bit, so it was only waiting to see which option Moffat picked. And... yeah, kind of disappointing that it was an out at all. We knew there would be some cheat, but that really is cheating (just as if it was Ganger Doctor). Of course, we need to go back at watch the first episode again with the knowledge it's Tessa-Doctor, and also see if anything about the alternative reality is played out in their reactions (which presumedly Amy and Rory are carrying around with them... including when they find out River is their daughter... which they know from the alt-version... wait a minute, is that a major contiunity blunder?).

And speaking of the alt-version, this brings up point number two: the whole episode is padding. It is simply a whole episode stall between 'the Doctor's going to die' and 'it was a robot all along'. If it hadn't happened, nothing different would turn out. It's only minor elements of knowledge (Amy killed whatshernameitsnotKavorkian - which doesn't come up again - and River learns the Doctor's 'name') that come out... indeed, the Silence and Kavorkian are still around (as hinted at the end)... dear gods Moffat, will you just end an arc already!!!!

But, at the end of the day, was it a good watch... not really, no, because I realised it was padding, we knew the robot was an option, and the wedding was pants (River has still only kissed the Doctor once, and it wasn't then).

And does this mean next year will still dangle the question/Silence over our heads for the entire run?

Next time: Christmas! With Amy and Rory? Or River?


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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Back in Metapol, and it's an unpleasent scene. There've been executions under the cover of riots, as the families of the Engineers have been "dealt with". We can't be having with that. But as we get back we find some other changes, the police carry guns, and the gorillas aren't skulking any more...

Huzzah, back in Metapol! But it's an all new Metapol. We continue to argue about what to do, and surprisingly manage to do something. Not the raid on Ape Central... but we do get some action, and Gavin shows off his new Stunt!

Check out Game 43. And, yes, I managed to record it this time! Rapidshare and Hotfile.


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Walking through Wellington

Because I could, I took a video of the walk I take every other week from my place to where I RPG. We just started daylight savings, so the sun is setting, but not yet. Previously, when I tried to make a video it was decently night and everything looked brilliant lit up, however the battery failed. If it's still on half a year from now, I might take another video of the trip at night.

Warning: the Flip video claims to have image stabilisation. This is what's known in the industry as a "lie", and the picture bounces all over the place while I'm walking. There isn't anything I can do about that.

Also see topical videos of car tooting to celebrate the RWC, part 1 and part 2.


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Saturday, 1 October 2011

TW: First Born

Next up, Gwen and Rhys and the baby makes three. In First Born by James Goss. [In his Acknowledgements, James thanks RTD for advice about breastfeeding... I really do not want to know more about that conversation...]

Gwen and Rhys are hiding out with baby Anwen, and they are doing so in the isolated village of Rawbone. The inhabitants want children, but have none of their own. Instead they have Scions. ...and that's stretched out over 200 pages. The last 50 pages pretends to have something happen, but it's resolved without anyone needing to do anything, least of all the supposed heroes of the story.

Which, as you might be able to guess, is the problem. Very little happens in this book, and most of the story is around Gwen and Rhys dealing with Anwen. Which doesn't make for exciting reading. And yet... it is most of the book! And the village (for story reasons) is all about Anwen too!

I don't think James is a first time father when he wrote this, but it wouldn't take much to convince me of it. Clearly he enjoyed writing this book far more than I did reading it.


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