Saturday, 31 December 2011

Adventures of Tintin Abbey

You know what movie this is. The one that goes deep into the Uncanny Valley. And it certainly does. Pretty much any time there was a close up on Tintin, especially full face on, it just creeped me out. His face was too small for his head!

Anyway, in this movie they make an extraordinary meal of the comic, extending panels out to ten minute sequences. Tintin stumbles onto a clue that leads him deep into finding out the secret of the Unicorn, meeting up with Captain Haddock, yadda yadda, most of us have read the comic by now, and they mostly follow the story. By mostly, as I say, they expand it a lot to reach the 1 hour 40 minute mark. [And note I'm only referring to The Secret of the Unicorn here. There's still Red Rackham's Treasure to go.]

Performance-wise, it's decent enough. Creepiness aside, Tintin looks proper. Haddock is shorter (or Tintin taller?) than I would have thought, and looks like someone (somewhat Serkis) with a large prosthetic nose. Thompson and Thomson are more round of face than I would have expected. Nestor is pretty much spot on.

Ultimately, this is easily the start of a new franchise of Tintin portrayals, but I'm not sure I'm willing to sit through every one of them... (well, some of them definitely...)


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Friday, 30 December 2011

I Ron Druid

Recently listened to the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. Set in the present day, an urban fantasy of the last druid who is trying to get by when shit starts happening in his neighbourhood. (Three books out so far, with a fourth to come next year.)

As it is urban fantasy, the most common reference for this is The Dresden Files. Only... this isn't that good. While a lot of books could be considered self-insertion fantasy, this doesn't give any pause before jumping in that pool. The last druid is able to take down everything that comes his way, with minimal effort (this aspect does get better in later books), and by taking advantages of plot holes (aka "little known lore" and "loopholes" in continuity) to exhibit powers and abilities not displayed by other series.

And then there's the whole lot of padding, where Dresden would have had three fights and gotten messed with by three different plots in the same time.

And yet... it's still entertaining. While I was annoyed and frustrated by what was happening, I continued to listen. And, dammit, I'm glad there's a fourth book, and I do want to know what else is going to happen.

This series doesn't come out polished, but there's a nugget of decency in there.


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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Mission Ghost: Impossible Protocol

[I saw this movie in the Titan XC theatre at Readings. I'm not sure what makes it so much 'Titan XC'ly, but it looked nice.]

This is the latest Tom Cruise Production (that's the credit!), and one thing that amazed me was that this, unlike all the previous movies, is an actual team movie, in that Ethan Hunt is not the one doing everything. The other main male lead gets some action sequences, the female lead (I can't remember names) nearly gets some action, but has to leave a lot of it to the males. And Simon Pegg is the comic relief... and nearly screws that up. It's a fine line, being the comic relief, between being relief and being painful, but Pegg stays on the side of tolerable.

Anyway, in the movie, some stuff happens, people die and once again Ethan (and his team) is left alone to deal with some threat... seriously, that seems to the basic plot of all the movies. Something happens to make Ethan removed from the resources of the team... then he gets resources anyway. There are some neat sequences, but nothing really amazing. [There was one plot point with the goggles that I did like. Really, it was a little point, but it nicely pays off, and could easily have come across as too easy.] (There might be links with MI3, but haven't seen that since I saw it at the movies when it came out, I can't remember... and not that keen to re-experience it, to be honest.)

With Ethan not being the sole focus, that makes Tom Cruise far more tolerable as well. Jeremy Renner is a more generic action hero than he is. Lea Seydoux... is extremely attractive (although she reminded me of someone else, I can't remember who).

Not a brilliant movie, watchable (seems like an action moment every five minutes). Worth seeing if you can see it cheap enough.


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Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I'm in the middle of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (part 2, chapter 2, paragraph 2...). While it seems perfectly logical that I would make my way around behind the building that contains people that want to shoot me, I don't think I've done it right.

Usually Valve are pretty good at indicating the clear way to go. A reward, or linear path, or some obvious visual cue to point the player in the right way. This time... I think I went somewhere I wasn't supposed to (at least, not yet).

Why am I thinking this? This:

That's Alyx. Standing in the middle of a stream of radioactive slime. Umm... yeah, that's not supposed to happen...


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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

DW: 7.0X (Christmas!)

Hmm... not sure about all that. It starts out being a Christmas story, but then gets sidetracked and finally ends up... something?

We start following on from the prelude with a moment more ridiculous than the cricket ball, then immediately hit a bad comedic note with Madge falling off her bike. Oh, the hilarity! This story has problems shifting from poignant moments to the inane wackiness that indicates multiple personality order of different scripts stuck together than the seamless story it should have been.

Dancing chairs! Think of it until it hurts. Look, she's piloting the platform! All the souls are trying to evacuate (from being destroyed by the enemy dropping pain from above... the war imagery is about as half-formed as the story)...

But, the ending, of course, we all saw coming. Of course she saved him. We all knew he was going to get out alive. The problem of ricocheting emotional tones ruins that as well though.

Still, quite a few continuity references were shoe-horned in. And what about Bill Bailey? Eh? Eh? Well... what about him? What was the point? Could have taken those scenes out, and nothing would have been missed.

Moffat, you've done better than this...

Next time: What? No next time? Well, I suppose, it is going to be nine months or so, right?


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Monday, 26 December 2011

Best Christmas Movie Evah!

I think there's only one winner:

Bruce Willis at the start of his action career, Alan Rickman being really cool, and a fantastic soundtrack by Michael Kamen (brilliantly rescoring the Ninth Symphony to fit perfectly with the action on screen). Great stuff!

Number 2 was good... not great, but good. Not quite a Christmas movie, too much of a retread. (And William Sandler is looking damn fine at 40.)

With a Vengeance is only good because of Bruce, Samuel Jackson and lesserly Jeremy Irons. The plot is fun, but the ending falls apart a lot.

Live Free is... a movie that happens to star Bruce Willis pretending to be a character he's played before. (Check out Threevening for great stories about that movie.)

To be honest, the decline of the series is nicely paralleled by the declining versus in the Guyz Nite song...


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Sunday, 25 December 2011

Against Santa Claus

There seems to be a continual resurgence of the idea of 'do we tell kids that Santa Claus is not real?' The latest being from a minister of an Anglican Parish. Gee? Why would anyone want someone to believe there is someone monitoring them, ready to give out rewards and punishments for good/bad behaviour?

Unsurprising to anyone, my take is "Santa Claus is a real as God, and for exactly the same reasons."

[A better question is: why do we tell kids that Santa Claus exists in the first place? Why is it that? Let's bring back Saturnalia and just have it as a general mid-season festival that gathers the family together?]

I can't remember how old I was when I realised it, possibly from having hints dropped. I do remember one Christmas moment, coming out to find presents from Santa... and nothing from mum and dad...

And, you know what? I'd rather have presents from people who know and love me than from some entity that only shows up once a year to dispense random gifts if they think I'm worthy according to their criteria...

So, yes, let's get rid of Santa Claus. Because family is the reason for the season.


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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Hate that Family

In 2007, Louis Theroux produced The Most Hated Family in America about the Westboro Church and the Phelps family in particular. [I think I started watching this on TV, but couldn't get through the first ad break... and that was the last thing on TV I ever saw...]

Anyway, this is some time with the Phelps family, and Louis seems to struggle to get to a point. Something about how the family is weird and the kids are trying to be their own thing, but are coming into conflict with their own desires and the beliefs of the church... but he tries really hard to get to that point and it doesn't come out easily.

He goes back in 2011 to see The Most Hated Family in America in Crisis, briefly touching on the court case of the time, but again goes on about the lives of the kids differ from that of the adults, and how the family has broken up and trying to deny themselves being human with emotions and stuff... but again it doesn't come along clearly.

Now, the Phelps family have strange beliefs... however, they aren't really that weirder than a lot of beliefs (not just religious ones) and many sects probably look at them in envy that they have that much control and conversion of kids. I'm thinking that a lot more sects would be like them if they could get away with it...

Ultimately, they are self-defeating. They think the end is coming very very soon (I'm thinking the timeline is years, but I'm sure they'll come up with some excuse if it doesn't turn up), and refuse to let their kids associate outside the church, so the genetic pool is rapidly terminating... it's a problem that will sort itself out.

Louis Theroux is trying for a portrait of the Phelps, but they are just vocal, and aren't any more special than other sects. Ignore them, attention is what they want...


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Friday, 23 December 2011

By Lantern Light

Geoff Johns put a lot of work into reimagining Green Lantern when he did Vol 4. (I think the reboot makes it vol 5 now? Either way, that's a good point to cut off, and I'm only a few trades off finishing the vol 4 collection.)

One big change is that the universe came from light, which became seven colours (conveniently the colours of the spectrum we know). Each colour is associated with its own corps... and each colour is the emotion which drives that corps. Now, as I said, Geoff did good work and wove it well into Lantern history, however there are a few issues I have with it, mainly that they aren't emotions. Mostly. Let's look. And, because I'm communicating, let's use "I feel" statements. (And see how people feel these emotions with google searches, using quotes to get exact statements.)

"I feel rage." (727K searches) Okay, that works as an emotion. ("I feel anger" gives over 2 million hits.)

"I feel avarice." (2,770 searches) Hmm... not really an emotion. "I feel greedy" gives 345K searches.

"I feel fear." (3+ million) Fear, emotion no doubt. This is yellow, btw, which does ties in very nicely with Lantern mythos.

"I feel hope." (2.5+ million) Yep, another emotion.

"I feel compassion." (534K) Yeah, okay... 'compassionate' is only 116K searches. This is supposed to be one of the rarer emotions, so that works.

"I feel love." (4.8+ million) Love, big emotion. Retconned to work with Star Sapphire, who originally dressed in red (now rage), but slid towards violet.

And lastly, the emotion that drives the Green Lanterns themselves...

"I feel will." (...hard to search for given its usage of "this I feel will..." style) Yep, will is an emotion... according to Geoff. Not buying it, which is a shame.

And happiness and sadness doesn't make the cut as significant emotions? Or other emotions? ...not sure how effective the Apathy Corps would be...


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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Episode 1

The idea behind the Episodes for Half-Life 2 was shorter stories, more frequently. Yep, that worked.

But yeah, four hours later, I've finished it. Maybe I need to go back and grab Half-Life itself (now 50% off!), but do these things always involve a Deus Ex Machina? And then you can tell we are in the puzzle section for a while, because we don't get a weapon until later (and then lose it, boo!).

My main take-away from this game: Valve doesn't trust the player enough to do what needs to be done, so they have Alex basically hold your hand for the entire game (aside from a few sequences). Just makes it feel rather more linear than usual (and it is a linear game anyway, but this way you are at the visible mercy of an NPC to continue).

There are also a fair few arena fights that feel more like 'resource management' issues than enjoyable combat. It becomes more 'switch to something with ammo, damn pushed the wrong button causing the flashlight/gravity gun to come up, damn I have low health... and I died again.' This is even more so during the damn 'get the citizens to safety' sequence which goes on too long. Surprising considering that Valve seems to test the hell out of the game and streamline things, but I was just annoyed at how often I had to go get more. [And as for the 'get all out alive' badge, hah! Never had a chance...]

Will go back for the Developer Commentary first, but then Episode 2 awaits!


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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

I was nearly there

There were a series of lectures not that long ago:
The Royal Society Science 2011 Lecture Series Inside Out: the chemistry of food, sex and ageing, in association with Radio New Zealand

One lecture was at Te Papa, and I was booked in to go... but was unable to go on the day. Pity.

But you (and me) can hear what I missed out on, and the other lectures to, because they are online!

Talking Heads

I'd also like to recommend the E = mc2 Lectures, from 2005. Very interesting talks.

Amazing what they archive on the net these days...


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Monday, 19 December 2011

18 Apollos Mooning

From the makers of Paranormal Activity... actually, I have no idea if there's a connection between PA and this movie. Possible PA2, it's that bad, but this is the PA of moon landing movies.

Only a few missions went to the moon. Apollo 17 was the last... or was it? Using footage that was uploaded to a website, this documentary about the 18th mission was created and now you know the truth. There is something on the moon...

You know, it's tough to buy into the "this is real" disbelief when right after announcing that, they cut to the guy from Sanctuary. And how many cameras did they have? How many were in the lander? Why did they keep filming? ... How did they get the footage without more missions? (I know for a fact that they don't waste weight, and all those cameras would have been unnecessary weight.) They get a moon landing nearly right, but it all breaks down if you think slightly hard about it...

Then there's the actual thing of what's on the moon. That's pretty stupid too. It's like the episode Blink. Makes you go 'what if that basic thing wasn't really what you thought it was...', but no, it really is what you think it is.

A low budget movie, and it shows. Is anyone fooled by this at all?


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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

War has been declared, so what do we do? Bicker amoungst ourselves, mostly. We did manage to talk to people, but aside from revealing some secrets, not a lot else.

This was really a game where we discussed where to from here. In fact, the last hour is us talking about the longer view, and how the game will continue from here. Useful discussion, but I am wondering if Marlow will still be around...

Hear us talk in Game 47. Rapidshare. Hotfile.


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I Stole The Film

Since the NZ Government thinks we are all pirates / kowtows to America thinking we are all pirates, I watched a film about pirating, Steal This Film. You won't see this in the theatres, or video stores. You will see this if you download it directly. Or torrent that. That's rather the point.

In Part I (2006), pirating is introduced. Pirate Bay is set up, and raided. And is still around. Torrenting is here to stay, under the nicer name of "media sharing". In Part II (2007), they talk about how pirating in one form or another has gone on through time, and people adapt to it. And so do companies. Movie industries refuse to (so far), because it would be the end of them...

Fine. Let's try that as a thought experiment: torrenting becomes rampant, it's a common everything day, what happens? Hollywood disappears! Well, not really. It's one thing to watch a movie on your computer or big screen TV, but there's still the giant movie screen. And with no sign of 3D TVs being any good, those films will still have a market. (And IMAX films.) And not everyone will be torrenting anyway. And some people will want the BluRay version with tons of extra features they can't be hassled downloading. Hollywood isn't disappearing immediately.

But let's say it does collapse enough to only be one company left. What of all the people there? Will the unemployment rate suddenly jump up? Again... no. I can see the theatre sector suddenly gaining a lot more people. And it's not like the movie industry will go away, already we have people making movies and relying on torrents, etc., to get the word out so people want to see it. They rely on donations and DVD sales to cover themselves, but they aren't forcing to not copy and distribute it for free.

Even if that fails to happen, people have found new opportunities. Those people that destroyed the movie industries won't be getting entertainment any more, and will still want to be entertained, so there's an opening. The industrial revolution didn't destroy civilisation (although some might differ) but gave new tools to use. This might not be that extensive, but torrenting is a tool, and ways to use it will be found and/or something completely different to movies will arise.

Ultimately, it is here to stay, so the movie sector will have to adapt to it. Some people will never pay, only get things for free, no matter what. But that's always true of any area. A new model will arise, and money will be found in other ways, some balance between "no copying" and "total information freedom".

For as long as there are profits to be had, there will be a way found to get them.


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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Lost the Coast

I sprinted through Half Life 2 again (on Hard Mode... with God Mode on), to remind myself of the story, and not at all because there's a hint of HL3. (Really, not.) Because I actually want to move on to the other games in the series and wanted to remember what had gone before.

So, to start with, there's the missing level Lost Coast. Well, not really a level. More of a vignette. Although brief, it manages to encompass resource management in a gauntlet run (limited guns and ammo storming the castle), puzzles (didn't believe that would work... and yet!), and defense against an incoming attack. The basic elements of the game distilled into one brief sequence. This is why people line up to give money to Valve... (a pity you can't go visit the city, though.)

And it is the start of the Commentary nodes. The hunt to find them all, and then try to play them in order, or try to remember which ones you've listened to if you get them out of order. Just such a shame that HL2 doesn't have commentary in it, it's considered such a core of gaming development that would would be fantastic. (Has it been modded into happening? People mod that thing for everything.)

It doesn't look like Lost Coast is available separately. Pity, that'd be a great way to get people in to play their games.


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Friday, 16 December 2011

Do you want my business?

There's some craft items I want to get. I tried local, they decided not to actually stock what I want (although they don't tell me until after I order, and then mail me when most places would use email).

I then go overseas. There's a site in America, probably where the local store gets it from (wouldn't be surprised). I place the order, then wait for it to be delivered...

They do contact me by email to say "we couldn't calculate the postage correctly" (I'm assuming because I'm living in a country they haven't heard of, which could be any country outside of America) "so we need to charge you more." I email back about the matter... and hear nothing.

I go to their site to where the order is... oh, there's a form there, I use that to contact them... and hear nothing.

So now I've emailed them again... still nothing.

I get that it's getting near Christmas, but it's not like this is the festival craft shop or anything. I can only presume that they don't have have any interesting in running their business, because it's not like they are acting in any way that would want to make me use their services again. And I'm not wanting to try elsewhere because then the order will suddenly go through and I'll be charged for it, yadda yadda.

Good to see the principles of incompetence are alive and well...


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Thursday, 15 December 2011

No Impact, Man

When you hear that the documentary is called No Impact Man, you are likely to jump to the idea that it deals with the environment, and having 'no impact'. And you'd be right.

This movie follows the year of the life of a family that is trying to have no impact on the environment. This means creating no garbage, not producing carbon (walking/biking everywhere), no toilet paper, and, ultimately, no electricity. Not to say that everyone should do that (because that ain't gonna happen), but to show that it can be done.

And they manage it... more or less. The wife is less enthused about the project that the husband (as it was his idea), but she goes along with it with the hope that he'll go along with her idea... another child. I'm not entirely sure why they included that thread in the movie, even the wife says it is a loose thread narratively and could have easily been left out entirely... but it is a human interest piece amidst a human interest story, so no movie maker is gonna skip that easy heartstring pluck. But that does help underline one problem with this movie in that there really isn't a cohesive narrative structure to the whole piece. It's more like random bits and pieces as they try to have no impact, intermingled with them having soap opera moments... and then it ends.

The easy joke is that the movie didn't have an impact on me... but that is the fault of the movie makers, as this is a good example of what we could do if we really wanted to.


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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Vigil the Huntering

After the (not at all entirely incompetent) dealing with the motel situation, we decided to lie low for a while. Which comprised of the doctor ordering in medical equipment, Jane going to church, Robert going to the library, JD going out stabbing things, and me going to my shop. [Yeah, we are incredibly subtle.]

One thing that Robert finds is that there is a core agreement about vampires and things they don't like. Looks like the movies got some things right, but most people don't like being burned or having wood thrust into them. With that in mind, we get together for a bit of a chat and come up with the idea that maybe we could get a piece of wood, then find a vampire, some hold him down, someone points to the heart, and then someone thrusts said piece of wood into indicated heart. Yeah, we're so brilliant, no-one has ever come up with that plan before. [Kind of odd that to first use a tactic, we got to come up with a plan of what to do. Because there are no movies about staking vampires that we've seen? Still, I rolled exceptionally, so I helped!]

We're still being tracked by people, and while we're out practicing this idea, Stitch (who has joined me to help running my gun shop) lets me know the police are still poking around, but he told them I was "out of town". Since then, I've come up with the cover story of "gun convention", that should work.

Aside from getting some idea of how to stake someone [hey, hey, finally a chance to bring along my Buffy stake prop!], more investigation continues, with Robert using the laptop we got to access a virtual network to find out about the email address Karl had. However, someone was monitoring the network enough to lock out Robert before the computer locked up.

After JD and I grab a car to use for hauling around our weapons, he and the others head to the museum to check out the display the pendent was a part of. They find a distinct vampire theme. They also spot Heinrich Koenig, creepy museum guy that talked to me. After a lot of kerfluffle, they investigate his office and nick his Rolodex. Hopefully that will reveal some leads, but nothing incriminating immediately.

And around that time, we find that the police following us have decided we aren't the suspects we clearly are. For now, we are free...

[During this time I had a dream. Stitch tells me I woke up screaming about Phyllis and a horse. I can't remember all the details, but... that wasn't a dream, it was a nightmare. I recall some old man told me something about that... It's time to track him down, and if he knows anything...]

End of story one.


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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I've Been Watching...

[Well, not the missing episodes, only clips available of those...]

Several years ago I was in Australia for a conference, and on TV at the time they were showing episodes of Doctor Who. I caught the end of The Sea Devils, and the first episode of The Mutants. Which meant I never found out what happened to Ky and Varan... until now! [I had seen it many, many, many years ago, but like I remember that!]

So at last I get to find out that... pretty much everyone dies. Certainly most of the Solonians do. Consider that most of them mutate, and most of those end up in the cave and gassed to death. Those that are on the Sky Base are all shot. Ky only survives by becoming Super Ky. Presumably there are whole tribes of them on the planet, but you wouldn't think so. Not to mention the number of Sky Base personnel that die (one at the hands of the Doctor himself!). [Notably, amid all the race focus of this episode [it was focus enough for one of the extra disc items to be about it] the black guy survives!]

Although it is six episode, it doesn't feel padded. There's enough change of scene and progressing of information that nothing immediately feels like it should have been cut out. (No doubt you could trim the episodes down, but you could do that for any story.) Looking back on it now, it's amazing how the whole planet was subjugated by a fat guy and a handful of guards. And yet, it all works out nicely. [I'm glad they got rid of the clone plot, no idea what that would have been about.]

We've got the usual commentary (seven people mixing it up this time, this is how you fill out a six part story, not just miss episodes), and production subtitles, with the overlap of information as usual. [Yes, Paul, I know it's entirely accidental.] The second disc has extra stuff on it... but I'm hard pressed to be excited about it to consider it worthy of needing a second disc. There's the usual behind the scenes talking heads bit, but the rest of it could easily have been missed or allocated to a four-parter needing more filling out. (And that Blue Peter segment was amazingly irrelevant, short and containing no episode specific creatures!)

You don't need to be seeing the colonial angle to be enjoying this story!


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Monday, 12 December 2011

Metal Gear - Solid Video

Okay, so in no way is this original, but, hey, I haven't commented on it, so... As I've mentioned before, I watch Let's Play of computer games, and just finished working through Metal Gear Solid 2.

That's a lot of watching that I've done. Several hours. The thing is... that's a lot of video watching for the person playing too! Just how much cut scenes does a game need? It certainly feels like more cut scene than game play. There were definitely moments where the player moves about two steps then hits another cut scene. Seriously? There is a discussion of the role of cut scenes in games, but this game doesn't help with the 'only as needed' side, and certainly lends credence to the 'game maker only wanted to make a movie and grudgingly decided to allow the player a chance to do a little something within tightly controlled boundaries'.

And then there's the actual story. It starts out relatively not-insane, but... near the end, revelations were revealed and... what the hell? How many plans were there in action? What was really going on? Did anything explained at the end make any sense to any one? (No, not really.) Comments in the LP suggest that MGS2 is one of the worse ones, story wise, and I have others to watch (2 and 3 were available for download before, 1 and 4 are only now just become available).

As I said, these are hardly original comments, but it's one of those things whereby you don't really believe it until you experience it for yourself. Reputation well earned, I say. Reputation well earned...


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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Death Valley

[I might have blogged about this already, but if so I can't find it...]

I checked out seven episodes of the series Death Valley. The basic concept is that zombies, vampires and werewolves turned up in Los Angeles, and this series is a mockumentary about the cops that are dealing with them.

First problem, the cops are incredibly incompetent. Like so much that the only reason they get through each episode is because of more than stupid good luck. They are 'only protected by the script' stupid. In anything more like reality, they'd be dead or otherwise removed based on the number of people who die just because they are so useless, let alone getting themselves killed.

Second problem, this is supposedly 'reality series', so camera men and sound guys are on screen. Or rather, one sound guy, which is all they seem to have despite having three groups in any given episode. Let alone a lot of the camera angles can't come from documentary makers. [Yes, The Office also had this problem, but far less, and they tried harder to cover it properly.]

Third problem, and this is the big one which could have otherwise forgiven the first two, but it doesn't... it's not funny. This is an MTV series, so clearly aimed at people who aren't me, but I'm not even recognising this as humour. Is the MTV audience supposed to be stoned when they watch this, or something, because unless we are supposed to be laughing at the show (instead of with it) (and I'm not even doing that), there's nothing redeeming here.

Big shocker: it wasn't picked up for a second season. There's a surprise...


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Saturday, 10 December 2011

A meandering through NZ 90s music

Not quite sure how it started, for some reason it was in my mind, so started with:
Violent by Stellar*, then, as you do with youtube, I moved onto
Alright by Tadpole, and stuck with them to get to
Nothing New by Tadpole and
No Man by Tadpole, before going to one of their bigger hits
Blind by Tadpole and one more
For Me by Tadpole then moved on to
Run Run Run by Goldenhorse, was then annoyed there's no video for Fur Patrol's Man in a Box, then switched over to
Calling On by Weta, then popped back to
Out of the Moon by Goldenhorse, before trying to find a Fiona McDonald song (still can't) and got sidetracked by
George by Headless Chickens, annoyed again at no video for Body Blow, before finishing with the sister of the lead of the opening act
Something Good by Bic Runga.


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Friday, 9 December 2011

Collection or Single?

I did something I said I wouldn't do. I didn't intend to, but... it was just too tempting, so I gave it.

I started rereading Green Lantern. (Although with the reboot happening this year, I'll probably stop again when I reach that point.)

How I have done this is pick up the collected trades (usually the paperback versions, relatively cheaply through Amazon), and read my way through those, trying to keep them in order. Not that straight forward, as I have Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. Fortunately while they are going on concurrently, they aren't crossing over that much, so reading them in the collected chunks is working more or less well. (A little trouble around the Sinestro Corp Wars and the GLC story skipping issues for some reason, but have that sorted out now.)

But now I am up to Blackest Night. Which, even just the core trades, is about half a dozen. And the question becomes: do I read each trade in one go, with whatever spoilers for other trades as they happen, or do I read each issue in the proscribed reading order?

On the one hand, I get the full story in one go (reading the full trade at once), on the other I get to experience the story more or less as it was published. But that does involve flipping back and forth through several trades (and I don't have every single one). I'm early in it, so it's not bad yet... and very definitely mean 'yet' as it's about to start flipping all over the place.

I'm tempted to read the full trades, just to make it easy on myself. But let's see how far I get putting up with switching around...

[Yes, I haven't talked about the story itself... maybe another post some time...]


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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Soul Eater

I've just finished watching the 51 episode run of (the first season? of) Soul Eater, based on the manga. (Hmmm... I was trying to find a good, representative trailer for it - can't do it.)

This is about a group of kids at the Death Weapon Meister Academy. In each pair, one is a Meister, the weapon master, and the other is the weapon... and these humans actually transform into weapons, either guns or scythes or... (it seems to be due to something a witch did 800 years ago). Anyway, we follow three pairs as they train and fight the monsters in order to defeat the wicked witches and ultimate the Kenshin that will drive everyone mad.

And, of course, have a lot of fun. In that while this does contain serious moments, it is a comedy. Death (remember Death weapons here) is a rather goofy figure (he was more serious in the past), and the sun and moon are... just plain weird. Yet, cool. As usual for these types of shows (battle style), the main opponents are really themselves as they fight to become better fighters. And the witches and Kenshin too. Will they overcome all odds?

I haven't been watching anime like I used to, and rarely have the patience to start a new series, but this hooked me after only a few episodes, so that I had to watch it to the end. So I can give this one a thumbs up!


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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Because Apple won't unclench

I have an iPod Touch. Quite useful, definitely like the ability to listen to podcasts at 2x speed. Wish the normal music tracks had that feature. And the feature of skipping back 30seconds. (Because by 'music tracks' I generally mean other podcasts/rpg game sessions that I don't download via iTunes.)

And iOS v5.0.1 is out. While I don't necessarily need to, I could update my iPod to that. Just to make sure everything is running at top efficiency...

The problem is is that when I got the iPod, it came with movie files on it. (YES, legally. It was part of a thing this website was doing.) But, iTunes doesn't want to have anything to do with them. If I tell iTunes to 'sync', it wants to delete any files on the iPod to load on ones it does know about.

And... of course... and this is the problem, it's not like any other software is letting me easily access the iPod. (At least none that look to be free that I would trust.)

But, and this is the kicker, if I want to update to the latest iOS, it warns me that all apps and media will be deleted. (It doesn't acknowledge that the computer I'm connected to is the one that I sync with, so it can't backup the files on the device.) I don't want to delete the files. I don't have copies anywhere else. So... I can't update the device.

Really, Apple? Is it so hard to let other people manage files that go off or on the device? Am I forced to consider jailbreaking the thing just to back up my perfectly legal files?

Does anyone else out there know what the solution is? Is there free software that can copy all the files off? Or is there some setting I'm missing that stops iTunes from deleting everything I haven't given money to Apple for...


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Monday, 5 December 2011


This is a stunning looking movie, when you can see it in the darkness. This is certainly a film to see... any other sense however...

In this movie, the gods are immortals from long ago )you can spot them because they wear ridiculous helmets), and they imprisoned some other immortals. Hyperion seeks a plot key to free the immortals. On the other hand, we have Theseus, an outsider with Mad Fighting Skillz(tm). And... you can exactly guess what's going to happen as well as anyone. (Although at one point when they get the plot key I went 'what? no fetch quest?' then I realised 'did I want a fetch quest? no... so good then!')

That is the problem I had with this movie. There was no real plot, you could guess everything that was coming... so what was the point of it again? To look pretty? I want more than that... although from looking at the profits for it, I'm thinking I'm in the minority... no doubt we'll see a sequel soon...

No-one really stood out, acting wise, and since most of the movie was dark and everyone was grubby, it got to be hard to tell who was whom (not that they were amazingly distinctualised people anyway...). Mickey Rourke was there being Mickey Rourke's new personality (big and brash) and it was nice to hear the voice of John Hurt (even if I did keep expecting him to say 'Merlin!').

While a movie to see for the visuals, it won't satisfy otherwise.


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Sunday, 4 December 2011


The subtitle of this movie is "Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism". It would be more fair (ha!) to say "How Fox Spins the News" would be a more accurate subtitle as this isn't about Murdoch (at least not directly) but more a documentary for how Fox News tactics work to spin the news how they want to, and the impact they have on actual news (what they do is not 'news' by any definition that relates to 'imparting new information').

Biased? Yes, but so is Fox News. At least, it is as portrayed in this movie from 2004, right before the "reelection of George Bush" as they called it. In many ways this was a serious documentary version of many swipes at Fox done by Daily Show.

But, to be fair to Daily Show, they do attack more than just Fox News. In this movie, we don't get to see that other networks are better, nor is there an official take from Fox itself (although one can easily imagine what the response would be... and take a look at the Wikipedia entry to see if you are right).

The last few minutes (practically) of the movie is a call to action against biased media. Certainly a stance to take, and this movie is a good call for that. Just make sure it's more than just the obvious targets that are examined.

Definitely worth a look to see how Fox operates... and then wonder how many other stations looked at this and thought "so that's what we should be doing"...


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Saturday, 3 December 2011

DW: Sightseeing in Space

Book 4 of the double stories is Sightseeing in Space. We get Steve Lyons and David Bailey delivering us entertainment.

First up Terminal of Despair by Steve Lyons. And since the main monsters cause despair, they are called Desponds. (To be fair, they are named by humans, so yeah, they weren't creative.) Anyway, on an intergalatic airport, monsters have caused it to go into quarantine for five months and everyone's still alive after that... um, sure. Food can last that long and everyone can survive, why not? Just as well the Doctor, Amy and Rory turn up when they do to resolve matters. A decent enough tale, but there is a lot of padding of irrelevant plot points, and I hope you like reading scenes of people being attacked by monsters, because it happens many, many, many times with nothing new to add. In some ways, this could have been a black comedy, but the idea isn't sustained enough for that.

Second is The Web in Space by David Bailey. It's about a Web. That is, yes, in Space. Actually, that's a lie. It's really about a bunch of robot pirates taking over a ship that happens to have as a backdrop the ship stuck on a web of a giant space spider. Most of the story is them traveling around the ship which is having problems (being stuck and all), very minorly about them interacting with pirates, and hardly at all about the spider. But, to make up for it, there's a lot of exclamation marks! Because it must be exciting if there are exclamation marks!!!

A book that has stories that zip pass... for whatever good or bad that means...


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Friday, 2 December 2011

Room to Panic

For some reason I've had this itching to see Panic Room. Not sure why. Even less sure now that I've seen it.

The set up is basic. Jodie Foster and kid are in a house. Bad guys come into the house. Jodie and kid gets in the room. And that's about it for the rest of the movie. Sure, the bad guys want into the room, Jodie needs to get safe, but if you've seen one Base Under Siege movie...

The problem of this movie is one of tone. Jodie Foster and Forest Whitaker are playing this as the thriller/drama this movie is billing itself as. The problem is first we have Jared Leto, and whenever he's on screen he's so hammy the movie becomes a farce. And then it gets to be Dwight Yoakam's turn to go Over The Top and drop the movie into inanity. Not good, David Fincher, not good at all.

A movie with some decent performances, but not an amazing feast for the brain...


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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Th' Thang!

Is it a sequel? Is is a prequel? Is it a remake? Is it just cashing in on the fame of the original? Either way, it fails to feature Kurt Russell!

There's a thing. It's in the ice. It gets dug up. And that where everything goes wrong. (When we saw the Thing in the ice, my mind when back to a similar scene in The Ice Warriors... which came out before either of these movies.) From that point on, it's all about killing them one by one in ways that feature typical effects of the time. (Yeah, the actual plot, with character arcs and such, are completely secondary if not entirely absent, but who cares?)

There is flak sent in the direction of this movie for overly relying on CGI and not being as good as the puppets from the original. Y'know what... I like the CGI effects! The original puppets were good, yes, but these things are flying all about the placed and are doing unnatural things in an entertain way no non-astronomical puppet budget is going to achieve. Yes, there are clearly creations that are entirely due to the computer, but... they still work, so thumbs up.

As for the humans... most of them are large, not-overly-descript men, so I didn't keep track of who was who. Even Mary is rather generic as 'pretty woman who gets screen time and psuedo-scientific dialogue to attempt to movie this vehicle along'. Whatever, they don't matter.

So, yeah, enjoyable movie... but now I want to watch the original again...


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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Vigil the Huntering

We gathered in the motel room to pool our information. I didn't have a lot to contribute, but found there was a priest for a church that never showed up. And, I'm not entirely clear on this, one of the not-leader guys from the train was an investigator that worked for a law firm that has dealings with a Sarah Haversham who was instrumental in getting the amulet thing to Philadelphia. And the investigator had notes that implied he was investigating the law firm he worked for on behalf of a guy named Karl (I'm thinking the leader of the train gang).

However, after that, there was a knock at the door, and it was the cop. The cop working with the train gang that had been by my shop earlier. Somehow, he found us here. (Yeah, stealth, lose-the-tail types we ain't.)

While the punk kid JB, the doctor Jack and the token woman Jane head out the back bathroom window to a back alley, I stay with Robert to give the others a chance to get away. That's as the cop is kicking in the door and wielding a shot gun! I get into a struggle with him, while Robert is ducking shots from a badly dressed pretend cop who's outside. I get the gun away from the cop, but keep him pinned as Robert grabs the gun, badly fires a few times, before basically shoving the gun in the cop's mouth and pulling the trigger. The not-cop does a runner at that point.

Meanwhile, out the back, the others find another not-cop waiting, who JB puts down for the count, and a vampire that starts snacking on Jack. Then the ninja chick from South America (totally not a Slayer, and the priest is not her Watcher) pops up, touches the vampire and disconcerts him enough for JB to come and smack him about. Jack gets away, the Slayer disappears again, then Jane turns up, and they wail on the vampire for a moment before he disappears to.

Getting back together, we quickly set the scene up that cop and non-cop from the back alley shot each other, and get out of there. We are terrible at this, but clearly we need to get better. And fast.


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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Team Xero #14

When trouble goes down, there is one man that knows it. One man that opposes it. One man that can sort the world out. And, best, of all, he's French...

(My turn to lay down the challenge gauntlet. And with all the bashing they get, I've decided to go Franco and give the requirement: a French Hero. With bonus challenge: a breakfast scene.)


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Monday, 28 November 2011

With Feeling Once More

Recently Sanctuary had a musical episode. Generally, musical episodes are a nice gimmicky episode, and can be fantastic. This episode was motivated by Abby (girl-friend of the main male lead) getting infected with something, and only able to hear certain harmonics... yeah, so everything has to be sung, because she completely cannot hear anything said normally. Bullshit science is your friend. (Somehow this was accompanied by music as well, there was no justifying that in the episode.)

What we ended up with was, aside from one or two moments, dialogue being sung to music. Not songs that happened to fit what was going on, but dialogue that would have otherwise been fine as normal spoken conversation being sung. No, no, it worked about as well as that sounds...

And, as you might guess, that made me revisit the classic episode by which all are judged, Buffy's Once More With Feeling. Now that was a great episode, the music and the singing (and the dancing) was completely justified within the episode. The songs were actual songs, and fitted the moments being sung about. And the words would entirely not have worked if just spoken. And the whole thing was perfect in the arc of the season as well.

Since then, we've wanted more. As they say "be careful what you wish for"...


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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Metapol is exploding, and it's up to us to stitch together the pieces! Actually, all it takes is one man with one microphone, and it's amazing what can happen. (And now I'm suspicious of that one man...) But then the world scene explodes, so now what do we do?

After the last episode this was a race, in many ways, against saving Metapol before it went to far. Which is manage to do, more or less. Certainly lives are lost (but not the PCs). And now... I'm not sure what our next move is. There are things we can do, but they seem small in comparison with the bigger picture...

Want to listen to Game 46? Rapidshare. Hotfile. [Amusing Avira blocked Hotfile as Malware. It probably is, but I'm continuing to use it anyway.]


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Star Trek Hidden Talent

[Warning: I'm about to poke fun at fans who were doing something they loved. While this probably makes me a bad person, I have seen far worse on the Doctor Who front.]

So, I've been watching Star Trek Hidden Frontier. This is an extremely fan made series, set in and around the Briar Patch (from Insurrection) about... some star base or another, and their ship that goes places at gets into trouble. (Not that uncommon a set up in Star Trek.)

First, let's say positive things. The CGI effects are amazing. Clearly done by someone who knows what they are doing. And the range of people they have on demonstrates, shall we say, more truer peoples in real life than usually grace a TV screen. (Yes, that's a positive, they went for people who wanted to be filmed, not people filmed for the sole aim of getting money.) And, yes, clearly, this is a love of the fans effort, and that love shows.

However... oh dear gods, some absolutely appalling acting. There's a reason we leave it to professionals. (And having been in a few fan videos myself, I have nothing but shame for my own performance.) The cast is definitely more "oh, oh, pick me, pick me!" than "I was in the stage production of Macbeth." And then there are the sets. No wait, I mean set. Everything is shot against a green screen and a background image of some part of a ship is added in. And by 'everything' I mean the one chair they have that everyone sits in one at a time so they can record their scenes. I was quite impressed when they went to a nearby park and did some actual location shooting!

Script-wise... eh, they are trying, some parts better than others. Nothing's really wowed me yet (and again, there are some professional productions that fail to wow me).

I'm going to watch all of it, but it's something that's more 'on in the background' than 'I must watch this!'


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Saturday, 26 November 2011

I was there, where were you?

So, yesterday happened. As it does. And one thing that happened yesterday was the quarterly Wellington Pub Meet of the Doctor Who fans. Which reached an exciting peak of five people, of myself, Alden, Peter, Foo and Tim. Woo!

Topics ranged from various tv series to... other tv series, and then, as these things happened, strayed onto Doctor Who. One thing that came up was that Big Finish is doing an audio to celebrate 20 years since Love and War.


20 years????

Freaking hell! We were trying to remember the books of the NAs that came between the start of the NA series and Love and War. The Timewyrm books (7), Cat's Cradle (3), Nightshade... and then named books after. Huh... looks like we didn't miss any. I was sure there were others in there, but no, Love and War was number 9. There were 61 of the things (plus MAs), can't be expected to remember them all.

But 20 years...

There are things you hear about, and all of a sudden they are 'hey that was a long time ago'. Thinking about it now, it doesn't make me feel old so much as it makes me thing I was very young when the books started. And I have them all!

Anyway, come along next time and hear about other pointless trivia that we bring up!


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Thursday, 24 November 2011

48 years later!

Yes, because I have to, this is a post in celebratory of one Doctor Who, premiering on 23rd November 1963!

So why is this posted the 24th? Because it showed on the 23rd of November... in England! Which, given that it was shown late in the day, means that it was the 24th over here! So people from England, coming here, will see this posted on the correct day for them! Woo, time zones!

But, hey, 48 years. And it's not lonely fans in basements celebrating it any more. And with Moffat taking over, and Smith just loving the hell out of the part, it's a great series to enjoy at the moment!


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Wednesday, 23 November 2011


With a first season (of 13 episodes) out of the way, I've now made it through The Protector. I'm not entirely sure why I started watching it, but I suspect the main reason was because of Ally Walker, last seen in a completely different show The Profiler.

This is a "quirky" cop show about Gloria Sheppard who is trying to juggle her work as a cop with her life as a single mom to two kids, living with her brother. [There's a whole backstory which is only semi-revealed, making me think there was a pilot episode that I missed (I haven't). Something about a fire when she was younger, when her mentally sick mother wasn't able to, she went in save her brother, and now she has scars, and is divorced... Dribs and drabs, I'm not sure how intentional it is, but it feels like there's something there the audience should already know.] And it is a rather light show, considering its 'murder of the week' style.

It's also unusual for me to watch a cop show that doesn't have something else. Either time travel, the main woman remembers everything, a fake psychic... maybe it's just that it is more light-hearted than the more grim CSI type of show. Certainly I don't watch any of that! There's also less action, as the two main leads are women. And yes, I am implying causation there. The one time I do remember a chase with guns out, it was the guys doing it. (Actually there is a chase in the last episode, but she's a giant chicken suit so it could be anyone in there.) Usually, at the end, everyone confesses when accused. Nice and easy, not entirely believable. But these things need to be wrapped up.

Surprisingly, the home life is also watchable. The brother Davey is well played, and even the kids are likable. And the mother brings in the required family tension.

Overall, a lightweight series that is entertaining. If you have the time and have been thinking about it, give it a go.


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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Odd Resonance

You remember that moment in Firefly? Of course you do. If you don't, go to 05:10 in this clip.

Jubal Early: You know, with the exception of one deadly and unpredictable midget, this girl is the smallest cargo I've ever had to transport. Yet by far the most troublesome. Does that seem right to you?
Dr. Simon Tam: What'd he do?
Jubal Early: Who?
Dr. Simon Tam: The midget.
Jubal Early: Arson. The little man loved fire.

So where (hint: did you just read the above) did my mind go when I read the headline Fire-bug dwarf escapes jail.

(It doesn't help that in the Serenity-based RPG I played in, the GM continued the idea of the midget arson, until one player got rather final with him.)


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Sunday, 20 November 2011

DW: Alien Adventures

Remember the 2-in-1 books from before? They are back still as two adventures, but this time in a more straight forward, one orientation printing that puts one story before the other. This one involves Alien Adventures.

The first adventure is the Underwater War by Richard Dinnick. The problem with this story is that Richard has taken 'for children' to mean 'childish'. There's 'Show, don't Tell', but here we have 'don't Show, or Tell, but express what happens in a very condescending childish way that would offend a five year old'. There are some very badly written passages here that made me wonder if there was an editor anywhere near this. The actual story itself is about humans coming to an alien world and trying to exploit it. (I kept flashing back to seaQuest DSV.) The aliens are quite nice, and would have worked better had the nature of the writing not made them seem negative dimensional. This should have been better.

Rain of Terror by Mike Tucker is better written, but in this case 'for children' falls into the trap of 'having child characters', so we get a few scenes written from a rather basic child perspective. The story is an alien invasion (of a sort) (and, amazingly, doesn't become a base under siege story), although the resolution to said invasion is very quickly done. The bulk of the story is really just interactions between people, now I think about it... but they are handled well that the story kept the pace up. Nice!

Only one decent read in this set, but they both fly by so quickly, they could easily have been 'Quick Reads'. Only half recommended.


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Saturday, 19 November 2011

A Bus load of Hope

Yes, it's that time again. Time to jump in the Bus and drive for hours at a time! And have fun while doing it!

Yes, it's charity time, for Child's Play, and the Loading Ready Run crew are already in for at least four days of driving, and it hasn't even started yet! (It starts at 3pm, our time.)

More than the fun of watching them driving, check out the auction items. The live auctions can go for crazy amounts, and are usually over in a flurry of activity. The silent auctions, obviously, last a bit longer, and there are many items there I want.

[Moreover, I've had an idea for what I could craft for next years Desert Bus! And it will probably take me nearly that long to do it.]

So come on over and join the fun, watch the money roll in, and, most importantly, experience the joy of driving a bus...


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Friday, 18 November 2011

New Zealand, City of...

So, Statistics New Zealand recently announced the latest estimate of the population of New Zealand (these things are always estimates, what, you think we know exactly how many people there are at any given moment?). The number is: 4,414,400. Yes, that is a lot of 4s.

But, how big is that? Let's put that in perspective in terms of cities. Namely... let's note that there are 44 other cities that have populations that are larger than the entirely of New Zealand.

Some of them are obvious, London, Tokyo, New York. The one that is just bigger than NZ is Surat. Um, can't say I've ever heard of it, but it has 4,462,002 people. (That does sound precise, but I note that the number is a multiple of 3, which makes me wonder... but that's something I might talk about another day.)

Let's talk about Jakarta. Why? Because, at number 13, it has a population that is more than twice that of all of New Zealand! Yes, 13 cities could contain multiple NZs!

And the biggest city is Shanghai. It's not just one New Zealand. It's more than two New Zealand. It even breaks three New Zealands... in fact, by over 150,000 people, it has a population that breaks over four times the entire population of New Zealand!

Fortunately, our population density is a bit lower. We may be smaller than some cities, but we have room to breathe.


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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Animated Green Lantern

The animated series that was hoping to build off the audience from the movie has begun with a two-part pilot. And after watching it, you realise where they are going...

Namely, into the wild west. Hal and Kilowog end up on the "frontier", a long way from Oa, with only them and their horse... I mean ship. And they travel around fighting the criminals with their guns... I mean rings. And both sides have guns. I mean rings. The opponents in this series are the Red Lanterns.

Which, of course, brings up a big question: what continuity is this in? We don't start with the typical Abin Sur giving of the ring, so people are expected to know something. But Carol doesn't know Hal is GL and there's no mention of Parallax, so this isn't the live action movie continuity. It can't be the comics either, because although they are using the emotional spectrum plot device (not that they have explained that yet, but that is where the Red Lanterns (Red for Rage) come from), but there's only one GL for earth, not four, and only one GL per sector, not two. It could be from the animated movies, but then they didn't agree with themselves on continuity, let alone this. It's another variant yet again.

And it's in CGI. And Hal, for some reason that animation seems to like now, has a huge chest on a thin body. What the? At least, unlike in another cartoon with GL (namely JLA), they are forming constructs with their powers. (At least, the GLs are, the RLs are just firing red beams of power.)

I don't see this grabbing new viewers as it does rely on some Green Lantern knowledge. And it's odd setting probably isn't going to resonant with GL fans. So... it has been booked for 26 episodes. We'll see if it lasts that long...


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Wednesday, 16 November 2011


So, I just finished the latest Terry Pratchett, known to the world as Snuff.

Over time, the Discworld novels have been less on the funny, and more on the plot. Not to say they aren't enjoyable, and this one definitely was, but I could deal with more humour.

This, in many ways, is another iteration of the Vimes stories. Each book, in some way, has been bringing in different races into the general folds of 'normal people'. First trolls and dwarfs, throw in golems. Then werewolves, and vampires. And now goblins. From that point of view, you can see where it's going.

And also, it's about Vimes being a copper, and gets to educate someone on being a copper. Also getting close to standard fare in many ways. Again, enjoyable, but... it is predictable where that part of it is going too.

Vimes has come a long way from the drunkard in the gutter afraid of dragons. The Summoning Dark has left its mark, and now Vimes is all too aware of what's inside himself. This could end up somewhere very dark (if Terry is well enough to tell the tale). But, if I may ask, can we deal the others (eg Carrot and Angua) again in the next Watch novel (when there is one).

As said several time, enjoyable, and will definitely be rereading this in the not too distant future. But I may reread others for the funny before I reread this for the plot...


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Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Lots of big names appearing in a movie must be a good thing, right? Especially when it's going to be just like Outbreak.

In this movie, an outbreak occurs, slowly building up from a few people to a large part of the world becoming infected. This movie really follows a few stories of people at different levels, doctors at the front line, people whose lives were affected, people at the top...

The problem with this movie is that when it hits Act 3, it gets to the moment of conclusion quite early... and then the movie completely lacks momentum as we go through the last half hour or so. We still have some character stories to go, but nothing interesting happens. And certainly nothing that builds tension in any way. The movie claims to be a thriller, but it isn't. It's otherwise classed as a drama, but the ending isn't that either. It becomes more like "here's how a real outbreak scenario might end up", and just whiles away the time. Not at all worth watching.

One good point: homeopathic remedies get a small taste of the kicking they truly deserve.

Anyway, a lot of big names, go see the list yourself. None of them really stand out, although I did spend a lot of time staring at Jude Law's tooth whenever he spoke. I don't know if it was make up, but Matt Damon's showing his age. And Lawrence Fishbourne just outclassed everyone.

Not the movie you might think it is. And not one that is satisfying to watch, either.


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Monday, 14 November 2011

Team Xero #013

It's all very well seeing the superheroes get out there, fight the bad guys, and win the day, but what about the other people? Support staff have issues too.

Although the set-up was for minor character, I don't have a lot of characters in the first place. And Trish has been in videos before. But she doesn't have any super-related role, and is seen in the opening/closing, so...


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Sunday, 13 November 2011

DW: The Gunpowder Plot

So, a traditional historical story, with hardly any aliens to be seen. A rare treat... no, hang on... I'm thinking of The Plotters. No, in this, the latest computer game, as is standard for New Series Who, everything that happens on Earth is due to aliens. In this case, there is a small issue of Sontarans and Rutans... (I will give the new series this, they do have the actual battles between aliens that we only dreamed of in the old series.)

Anyway, with the backdrop of the Gunpowder Plot to explode ol' London town, the Rutans are trying to wipe out the Sontarans, as they do, and need to help events along to get their crashed ship out. And so our hapless heroes get mixed up in history as they put paid to another alien invasion.

And heroes indeed! This adventure features the Doctor, Amy... and Rory! And you get to play as all of them! Indeed, Rory gets more to do here than he ever did in the actual stories. And that's another point: this game is long. Far longer than any of the previous adventures. Mainly because it is split up into lots of smaller segments, but have a few hours spare if you want to work your way through it. But considering how thin some previous adventures have been, this is only for the better.

Not to say it's all wonderful of course. Levels get repeated a bit, and long segments are repeats of the "dodge the guards" mechanic (ugh, the Sontarans really over-guard the sewers... and can't see people sneaking right in front of them). The camera didn't help in many cases, especially when I had to move backwards to go forwards. There were a few puzzles where it took me a while to work out what I supposed to do (especially Rory vs the Rutans). And a very odd bug: while in the Rutan ship, Rory and then Amy literally lost their heads! (Another bug, Amy getting hung up on scenery... caused me to die, stupid woman!)

But the free roaming levels were good. They do visuals well, so being able to look around pleased me. Although it's not always clear where I can go and where I can't (a few odd invisible walls). And there were a few places I didn't look, which bring me to...

Would I play it again? I think so, but not immediately. And I didn't find the surprise guest, so that will be something to look for. (Unlike cards, none of them to be found.)


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Saturday, 12 November 2011

He is... Intentionally Homeless

The current chairman of the NZ Skeptics is one Gold. (That's now his legal name.) He's decided to take a break from the normal working regime so he can walk to work. Or rather, walk for work.

In particular, he is on a walkabout across New Zealand. He's doing so for different charities, and because he can't (so do this now before he can't!).

(I also read a while ago that he plans to offer his services to create websites for people in return for a place to stay, but that doesn't seem to be mentioned on his website any more.)

Anyway, quite the admirable goal, and he's looking for sponsors, major and personal, so if you'd like to tip him (the price of) a pint, he's be happy.


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Friday, 11 November 2011


So, what is today? World Quality Day? Yes, but whatever. Skyrim? I couldn't care less. The date that a stupid movie claims has major occult significance, based on powers that existed before the Julian Calendar? No-one should care about that.

An atheist (so you can already know where that character arc is going) is a sad person, and is called home to attend to his dying father, and is reunited with his wheelchair bound father. It turns out that numerology explains everything, demons and gods are real, and there is purpose in life so give all thanks to higher powers and in no way take credit for being able to do anything for yourself.

A big thing about this movie is that it is from the director of some of the Saw movies. Definitely not the writer of, just the director. This is a stupid movie, it drags on, rehashs the 'you believe in religion, what about this?' a number of times, and as for the ending... I don't want to give it away, but I did, later, think of this (don't click unless you want a spoiler).

No doubt due to the Saw connection, this will do well. What a pity, as it so doesn't deserve any recognition at all.


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Thursday, 10 November 2011


No sooner said that done. [BTW "Trekkies" vs "Trekkers"... I don't care!]

Trekkies in 1995 is all about the fans. Even the stars are just there to talk about the fans. And, in some cases, there are fans of fans. But, really... they are just like other fans. That's how people want to spend their money? Hey, I've been to Armageddon, spent some money myself. This is all about largely positive experiences. That said... warning sign: when you dress up your pets, perhaps you're going a bit too far. (That and young children.) This is hosted by Denise Crosby, the woman who decided she didn't want to be involved... then desperately wanted to be back in. She talks to fans, to stars of the original series, TNG and Voyager... interestingly, no-one from DS9. Not sure why. A lot of people will point at this people and laugh... yeah, I can't. Too much like me.

Trekkies 2 in 2004... is just a repeat of Trekkies, really. Only this time they go around the world and go to other conventions. And check in on a few people from the first movie. But basically a continuation of the first. (Got to think that this movie is fairly easy to make. I'm sure there are a lot of logistical issues, but this really is just 'shoot people and edit together'.)

Very much a slice of fan culture that we all recognise.


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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

George Lucas Must Die!

That, at least, is a take home message from this documentary. This really is a love/hate letter from the fans to George Lucas.

I sort of get it. If someone really screwed up Doctor Who... however, we have the benefit of if we don't like what's currently happening, wait a few years and someone else will be in control. Doctor Who isn't as identically identified with anyone in the same way that Star Wars is identified with the other GW. I don't have the same passion for Star Wars as these fans do, but I can recognise it.

This movie is mainly about the fans. (And we see a lot of fan made work in this. Some adequate... most not.) It starts off with some beginning lead up of George before hitting Star Wars itself, and talking about how it made them feel. Importantly, the people talking were kids then. And then it goes on to the re-edits of the movie (and here is where I really don't care who shot first), then goes back to the new movies. [My Phantom Menace story: I saw it within 12 hours of its release, at 10am, in a largely empty theatre.] Then ends on bile and hatred and admiration.

There's always a problem with fans, in that while a lot of them are normal people, the one's who end up on screen are the weirdos. This documentary suffers a bit from that, in that few of them make a coherent argument. But one point of this movie is that SW brings out an emotional reaction, so that is getting captured. That does make the point of the movie a little hard to follow... but then there can't really be an ultimate point. Some people thing SW belongs to them, some go with what Lucas does, and then there's the current generation of kids who like all the movies, including Jar Jar.

An interesting slice of life of fandom. I know there are a few documentaries about Trekkies, not really about Whovians (nothing big screen certainly). Might try to track them down.


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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The World V Bobby Fischer

Insert line here about fine lines, genius and insanity. On the genius side, we have Bobby Fischer, chess player. On the insanity side, we get Bobby Fischer, conspiratorial finder supreme.

The document starts off being about BF and his brilliant chess skills. Then they cover the games with Spassky, and devote a fair bit of time to that. And then, afterwards, the movie shows off the decline of Fischer with a little more glee than the previous parts of the movie, finally some juicy human disaster to get into!

(Interestingly, considering that this is a documentary about a ... sport? ...hobby? baordgame? they don't spend any time explaining how it is played. Every other documentary has a segment on 'here's how this bit is played', but not this one. Either chess is that ubiquitous, or the only people likely to watch this are already chess aficionados and don't need to be told.)

In fact, in many ways, this movie does expect a level of knowledge about Bobby Fischer as well. We don't get a heartwarming story about his early child life (except as it pertains to him liking to play chess), nor are we told about who Spassky is, other than 'the Russian champion'. And the afterwards section jumps around like we already know the gaps that need to be filled in. I get that he is a 'name', but I can't say I know a lot more about him now than before I started watching.

Overall, a moderately decent documentary that assumes some knowledge.


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Monday, 7 November 2011

Call of the Margin

I wanted to watch this movie for a number of reason. Kevin Spacey. Jeremy Irons. Demi Moore. Simon Baker. Zachary Quinto.

Shame I didn't pick it because of the story. Or rather, didn't pick it because of the story. The story is about some... unnamed financial institution that has just let people go (this is set at the beginning of the financial crisis), and one person had been developing a new model of their business. Someone else picks it up and... well... I had a hard time following the content, there was financial speak, various characters asked for it in plain english, and yet it was still containing jargon. Basically, something about them owning stuff that would cost them, and so they had to get rid of them...

I wouldn't really call it a thriller, as it has a slow build, and in the last sections of the movie it tells you what it's going to do, and then does it. At least, I guess it does, it isn't really clear.

So, why watch it? Because it has great acting, and solid direction. Even if the script could use another few passes, this is still a well made movie. All the big names are worth watching, and give fantastic performances.

But, yeah... plot, don't watch for that...


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Sunday, 6 November 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Keblang! A season ender! Watch us get off to an exciting start as we try to get off a train and back to the city! Will we ever attack... somewhere? It does take us a while, but look out for George!

Bert does odd things with plots. We... well, me at least, am not entirely certain what's going on with it all, and next week will be interesting as we have fall out from our actions, and from what else is happening in the city. Will there still be a city??

Listen to it all in Game 45. Rapidshare. Hotfile.


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Activity that is Paranormaler-er

Once was fine, two pushed it too far, so why not back for a third shot at "static camera horror footage"!

Since we know from the first movie that whatshername suffered from demons when she was young, and something about a sister in the second movie (which no-one remembers), experience shock and horror as we go back in time to see how it happens! ... although not in any way that causes shock and horror.

There's a big gimmick this time of... a rotating camera! Woo! Experience the terror as the camera slowly swings around to show something slightly scary, then pans away slowly... and then stops... and then swings back (seriously, minutes, months, centuries pass by waiting for the damn swinging camera padding to GET ON WITH IT!) to show the spooky thing gone and someone being puzzled by the lack of spooky thing! Gah!

Admittedly, there are some attempts at actual horror, with a few things flung about (mostly off camera, or moving blurredly) but mostly we are again being scared with the 'standing in one spot for a long time' or 'tell me about the scary person you were talking to' moments. Not so much.

I liked the first movie. It worked, had actual atmosphere. The second one just didn't click anything interesting. And now the third is showing that this is a movie in a franchise (and there is nothing stopping them expanding this to another family member, or another family entirely). Give this a rest and come up with something new, hey, guys?


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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Who's the Ice Warrior?

So, in Silent Stars, Dan rants on (he brings it up more than once, and it seems to cause him some concern) about how, in The Ice Warriors, Victoria is the one who names the Ice Warriors 'Ice Warriors', but then the Ice Warriors seem to quite happily call themselves 'Ice Warriors' as if it's their actual race names.

Oh noes! What a continuity blunder! The entire canon of Doctor Who will surely never sustain such a blow to its integrity!

Well, just as well I'm here to explain this.

Let's go with Victoria does name them. So, then, in people's minds, at that point, they are called the Ice Warriors. Now, enter the TARDIS. We know the TARDIS does the actual translating (what, you think the Martians are speaking English?), so then whenever the Martians are talking, and refer to themselves, the TARDIS thinks 'aha, when they say their race name, I'll simply translate it to Ice Warriors, 'cos that's what everyone else already thinks of it as'. (And this simple translation trick works for the audience too.)

But wait, you really nit-picky people say. Walters was the one who first uses the phrase 'Ice Warrior'! Aha, now we move on to the next part of the theory. Let's skip ahead to The Seeds of Doom. Which, of course, happens before The Ice Warriors. When the Doctor and co turn up, once again, we can have the TARDIS translating the race name. But also consider that the Doctor is the one saying 'it's the Ice Warriors!', so that fixes that name into everyone's mind then. And from that point on, for humans from 2070 onwards the big green Martians are Ice Warriors. Which is why the name comes to Walters later.

(Or, if you follow other media, insert Red Dawn from Big Finish audios in that role instead.)

Ta da!


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Friday, 4 November 2011

DW: The Silent Stars Go By

Because this is apparently what needed to happen, Dan Abnett was given allowance to write his own DW hardcover, and came up with The Silent Stars Go By.

This books features... wait for it... you're going to be surprised... I promise you'll never see it coming... the returning monster is... I'm going to give it away... complete spoilers here... this novel has... The Ice Warriors! I know! You never saw it coming, did you? Not in a million years would you expect it! Suspense about their identity is built right into the book, and they aren't named until a third into the book! Wow! Out of nowhere!
Small tip, Dan. If you want to hide the surprise, a) don't mention them in the blurb. And b), most importantly... DON'T PUT THEM ON THE COVER!!! Seriously, I haven't cared enough to count the number of times the monster is a big reveal, but it's already been given away by the publicity, including the cover picture which, even if people don't read blurbs (like me), they're going to work it out as soon as they see the actual book!

*sigh* (Oh, and speaking of naming things, Dan goes on about a particular continuity error I'll address in a post tomorrow.)

Anyway, that aside, there is a reason not to name the monster straight away, although the explanation isn't obvious. Most of this book is a run around, with Doctor and Amy (and others) running from Ice Warriors, and Rory (and others) running away from Ice Warriors for... the bulk of the book really. There's a little plot expansion during the running, but basically it's them running around. Then, in the last 50 pages, we get actual exposition about what's really going on. If you can hang on till then, then you might get some originally of story, but it's a long way through chase scenes to get there.

From the above rant, you might guess I wasn't that impressed with this novel. You'd be right. For hardcover novels, you'd expect something special, either a particularly famous author, or maybe a big event. This is neither of those.

Unless you are a completest (like me), feel free not to bother with this.


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Thursday, 3 November 2011

It gets better... and worse

A while ago I reviewed The First Sequence. This one is The Full Sequence.

The first thing to note is that this movie is in black and white. Some people have complained about this. The director did it to make it 'scarier'. I wouldn't say that it was scarier... or even scary, but I'll get to that in a moment, but I will admit that the black and white nature gave it a more raw, edgier feel to it. Overall, the production was quite good, and it's been a while since I saw the first one, but I feel that this is better.

However... there's the content. In this movie, Martin watched the original movie on DVD (yes, this treats the first movie as fiction) [notably, while watching it on a computer, has to rewind the DVD in super rewind before rewatching it... what the?], and takes an unhealthy liking to it. Fair enough, we see easily that he's an unhealthy person all around, so when he goes off the deep end, we aren't surprised. He has it in his head to make a twelve person centipede because... well, because. And so he sets about getting some bodies, mainly from his work place (which doesn't seem to notice and/or care), and puts it together...

However, he's not any kind of surgeon, knows what to do from only watching the movie, and so the last third of the movie isn't scary so much as... absurd. And funny. And just stupid. It all falls apart, again surprising no-one, but while it's happening it's just bizarre, not horrific at all. Meh.

I'm not sure where there is to go in the third movie... but, yes, there is a third movie...


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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Vigil the Huntering

In preparation of the Travesty visit, it was decided to get the pendant back from where Jack Cottage hid it, and place it in my safe. (I say 'it was', because I have no real interest in dealing with the thing.) Turns out the doctor's place was ransacked yet again and the pendant is missing. Good riddance.

At the club, we are shown into a room in which the owner, Darlington, talks to us through speakers, and doesn't show us his face. Bit of a prick really. He also took our cell phones away so we couldn't call in reinforcements (like I had planned to, which is also why I'm glad I didn't say 'come in if you don't hear from me'). He knows who the South American chick is, and the bully boys on the subway weren't working for him, and, in general, he seems behind the eight ball. Oh, and his room had really thin doors (yay for a fumble!).

So, with him letting us go, and the pendent out of the way, that's about it really. All over with. We can move on.

The punk kid turns up at my shop in the morning, wanting to contact the doctor, so I get rid of him easily. (Turns out he woke up covered in blood, and there was a young woman killed last night which matches, but I don't know this yet.)

After a quiet day, when I'm closing up, two cops turn up, claiming something about firearm selling illegalities. While they have a look around, I get Stitch to come over, and Jane and Robert contact me. The cops can't find anything (I run a clean shop), so I leave Stitch to keep an eye on the place while I head out with Robert and Jane to catch up with Jack and the punk...

[one day per session... don't expect xp to be spent in a hurry...]


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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Marrow House 2011

It seems that there's a yearly event in Newtown that I've only just found out about. It's the Marrow House Shop Haunt, and it's nearby [location redacted], about a block away from where I live. So, of course, I had to pop down. And, of course again, I had to take video of it.

It's just a store front display, but they look really good! View it in its High Def glory!

[Video redacted to allow for the official one.]

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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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