27 December 2007

Happy Holidays

Hello everyone, hope you're having a wonderful festive season.

I know I am. On Christmas day, I got one of those new Daleks, the Voice Command ones which are a foot and a half tall and whose heads (Eye and Dome) can be controlled manually from the Remote Control or who can be set little tasks by simply saying words.

Today, I finally upgraded to a new iPod. I went for the Touch. Mainly for financial reasons, but also because I decided I could do without the hassle of a contract phone. It's an 8GB - that's where finance comes into it, I had £200 in cash.

Of course, tonight at midnight I'm being paid £193, but then I would have had to have paid all my money into my bank account and that would have delayed matters...I really wanted my new iPod ASAP. And hey, the iPod Touch kicks ass.

So I'm loving my new iPod. Video, internet, touch controls. It's awesome. Loving my new Dalek, he's a badass. Looking forward to buying a Blu-Ray Drive for my computer. A LiteOn for £95 which will also finally give me some decent disc playing software.

Then I'm gonna grab The Simpsons Movie on Blu-Ray. Going to kick ass.

By the way, Parker make the best fountain pens on earth. I got one for Christmas and damn is it good. Smooth, consistent, nice weight and good feel. If you write anything and you can get a Parker fountain pen, do it.

Jens Out

16 December 2007

Last.fm

Some of you are likely to consider me late to this party, but please indulge me. I recently joined Last.fm, mostly for the purposes of tracking playing statistics, something I find myself oddly interested in.

A while ago, I used My iTunes to place an artists widget on the sidebar of this place, you might have seen it. It broke. I couldn't be bothered to fix it. And so, I went back to having no music widget. Then, as I described above, I got Last.fm.

And I placed the Album Quilt in the sidebar to replace the old Artists Widget. I was pleased with it, it's nice and graphical. It does its job well.

I'm also adding a Recently Listened Tracks widget and Top Artists Overall.

Last.fm kicks ass.

Jens

13 December 2007

Regarding iPlayer

Huzzah and so on, the BBC have moved to a streaming system for the iPlayer, in line with similar efforts by the American broadcasters. This change makes it much simpler for us to view content - we no longer have to download the ghastly Kontiki platform or use Internet Explorer.

Furthermore, now the system no longer requires registration to use it.

Good job BBC.

Jens Out.

Drag and Drop Vs. Plug and Go in the Media World

A long time ago, I described the ongoing battle between Twin-Sticks and Pointer/Directional input in First Person control - a battle already convincingly won by Pointer/Direction input (Mouse/Keyboard and later Wii remote/Nunchuk). And yet the debate raged on, despite overwhelming evidence in favour of the Mouse/Keybaord and the Wii (And some arcade systems).

There is another debate, long since decided in one sides favour, which also refuses to die. Drag and Drop or Plug and Go, which is better for managing media?

Of course, this is a slightly more complicated debate. Although the winner overall is already decided, making the debate slightly pointless, the other side does win in some ways. The problem with the debate is that it is used in a similar Geek Vs. Mainstream way as the Twin-Sticks Vs. Wii Remote & Nunchuk argument (Ironic considering the Twin Sticks were themselves on the Mainstream side in their own battle with Mouse/Keyboard).

The number one selling line of personal digital media players on the market is the iPod Line. Don't try and dispute it, it's absolute fact. Consumers love it for its convenience and simplicity. Plug it in, iTunes loads it up, and you're done.

However, some people within the geek community feel that Apple's simple, easy solution lacks the customisation features they want (They like to be able to choose which songs go on and which don't. Clearly they have never heard of Playlists.) and prevents them from performing certain actions.

These people champion Drag and Drop. Some people who champion Drag and Drop also berate those who use Plug and Go for being "stupid" and "babies" for using simpler methods. Not all Drag and Drop supporters feel this way, and those who do not are often embarrassed to be associated with these people (Usually the same or similar to people who support PS3 and say Wii is for children only).

The major feature Drag and Droppers cite is taking music to other computers. I don't know about you, but I've never done that, nor can I see any real world situation where I will ever need to. I'm not saying noone needs it, but in my experience its application is so infrequent as to be meaningless. But whatever. Proponents of Drag and Drop also often cite it being cross-platform. What, like iPod?

The fact of the matter is, most Drag and Drop players are Plays For Sure. In English, that means that no, they are not truly cross platform. They cannot be used to they're full extent on the leading multimedia computer platform, OS X. Plays For Sure is Windows Media DRM.

iPod & iTunes are Mac and Windows.

*Linux may be ignored for the purposes of this discussion as the lack of support is more related to small market share and its fractious nature.

Plug and Go proponents, such as myself, enjoy the fact that Plug and Go works thusly:

Plug in iPod/Other media player, iTunes/Competing media manager does all the work, unplug once satisfied with power.

Whereas Drag and Drop works like this:

Plug in device, navigate to media in file explorer, copy media, navigate to device in file explorer, paste media, unplug once satisfied with power levels.

Furthermore, Plug and Go adds features of its own, like play count tracking. Something I use much more than the ability to plug into another computer.

But it's beside the point. Plug and Go has won, it is by far the dominant system.

And yet, I still see people avoiding iPods so they can make use of the less successful Drag and Drop.

I got news buddy. iPods can do both.

Jens Out

09 December 2007

Kyoto, Wii have a problem

As a Wii owner and a current Nintendo man, I put up with a lot - especially living in Europe. But things like Mario Galaxy and Club Nintendo's new status (Including the Stars to Wii Points dealie) make it worthwhile.

But the delays make me want to kill. Super Smash Bros. Brawl? Europe won't get it until Q3 '08 at the earliest. It's not the most important game in the world for me, but I do want it. And that delay makes me angry.

We've had to wait an ungodly length of time for Nintendo to make good use of the internet on Wii, with the exception of VC and the Internet Channel. Finally, online games are trickling in.

And guess what? The best one (Medal of Honor Heroes 2), has been delayed for Europe. Not cool.

Another great implementation of the internets is the Everybody's Nintendo Channel. I want that channel. But the US and Europe/Australia haven't seen hide nor hair of it. Excluding it's now obvious beta The Metroid Prime 3 Preview Channel.

But what makes me most pissed at the Wii and Nintendo is bigger. And don't get me wrong, I love my Wii and I love Nintendo, they're being good at the moment and have great characters like Mario. But they make mistakes and they make me mad sometimes. I've explained where Nintendo annoys me, now here's the number one Wii annoyance:

Where are all the driving games?

Oh sure, I know it's been a bad year for driving games anyway, but the only good driving games on Wii are Need for Speed: Carbon and Excite Truck. I'm going to try and get Carbon, primarily because I want another driving game on Wii, but I'm having difficulty. Stocks are low, it's a year old.

Of course, February will bring Ferrari Challenge and Mario Kart is due in the first half of '08, but that's not now is it?

Jens Out

02 December 2007

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men

We've already discussed that this game lost Jeff Gerstmann, Mr. GameSpot, his job. However implausible it may be, that's what happened. Here's the thing though...When Kane and Lynch got a 6 and was described as an "ugly, ugly game", I wasn't in the least bit surprised. If you were, you're nuts.

GameSpot's advertising deal with this shitty game was apparent long before "readers [could] skin the entire site with Kane, Lynch or with Kane and Lynch...Together". GameSpot's Video Game game show featured the game as Round 3, Owned in its final episode of the season.

It sucked then too. Alex Navarro and his colleague Justin Calvert were clearly not having a good time with the game's controls. Everyone playing it (Which included 2 members of the development and/or PR teams - it's hard to tell if people are really "developers" these days) were making an assload of mistakes thanks to sloppy controls.

It also looked like crap. In the immortal words of that same Alex Navarro (Regarding RoboCop on Xbox), "This looks like crap. [It plays] a lot like crap too".

But it's hard to see where the hype for this game actually built up. It was at E3 and it looked and played like crap there too. In a year that has seen Halo 3, Super Mario Galaxy, Call of Duty 4, Half-Life 2: The Orange Box, Mass Effect and Bioshock amongst many more great, modern games, Kane and Lynch is an un commonly old-fashioned film wannabe.

Were it made from a movie as a cash-in, it would be exactly what you expect. instead, Eidos wants to make a movie from it. The Angry Video Game Nerd says when you take a great movie, you get a shitty game and when you take a not-so-great game you get a slightly less shitty game. How does that work for making games into movies? I sincerely doubt you just flip the first half of the statement.

I can see some promise in the Kane and Lynch concept, which is probably the only reason sites like 1Up gave it the time of day at E3, but the execution is shameful. It's 10 minutes of good concept wrapped in 10 hours of shitty gameplay. Think of it as being like Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor (Half an hour of great action wrapped in 3 hours of tedium).

So, Eidos, tell me. Did you really expect this game to get a good review?

You did, huh?

Even though it is and has clearly been shit for months?

Why, pray tell, then did you expect a good review?

Oh, of course.

Josh Larson & Stephen Colvin promised you.

Jens Out