Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All is Right With The World When

The Human mind has quite an interesting ability to always be concerned with something and incessantly worry about whatever that concern is. Wither it is a mortgage, test, relationship concerns or just plain anxiety about work, being a Human means that you will always have something that is your top concern and needs sorting as it is preventing you from being happy or content.

So if your first concern of the day is how deep the layer of cheese is on your double cheese pizza, then you should remind yourself that things are good.

In Mordeth's case however he just seems to be angry at everything.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Virtual Surround Sound

It is popular belief that the best Home Cinema Sound Systems are the ones with the most speakers. Indeed the move from Mono to Stereo and Stereo to Tweeters/Subwoofers has indeed increased sound quality and this has all been very beneficial to consumers. I personally believe the advent of the Subwoofer is directly responsible for a radical change in rock music as many classic rock tracks including heavy metal from the 80's is mostly without base. Where as modern rock is mostly about thumping base and many genres like Trance wouldn't exist without the mighty base sound of a good sub. Surround sound has benefited films for many years now and as a result there is this thing called 3D or Virtual Surround Sound that has reared it's head that says you can get the same Surround Sound experience through two standard speakers as you can through five or six.

The idea of invisible speakers has intrigued me for a few years now. Our brains only receive sound in stereo, so it should be possible to have a surround sound cinema experience with just two speakers and there are systems out there that do this. Yet I have previously lacked anykind of 3D Speaker setup and haven't been able to play around with one. But have been eagerly awaiting the day when I could experience a Virtual Surround Sound Experience, until now.

So let me just step back a second and cover this a little. Most 3D Sound systems work by way of Head-Related Transfer Function which is a fancy way of saying that your Brain knows where some sounds are coming from because of the way the soundwaves hit your ear-drum. This is best heard for yourself and you can do that with This Dolby Flash Demo.

So anyway to explain this in english:
What the Virtual Surround systems are doing is taking a 5.1 surround output from a DVD player (or whatever device) and applying different sound altering algorithms to the different audio channels so that when all the speaker channels are played thought just two speakers the background sounds still sound like they are being playing behind the listener. The soundwave distortion effects that happen to the soundwaves as they travel from rear-speakers to the listener's ear-drum have been applied by the Virtual 3D Sound System's sound altering algorithms. So no the sound doesn't come from an invisible rear speaker, but it sounds like it does.

So that brings me to today and to cut a long story short yesterday I got a copy of PowerDVD7 that supports several types of Virtual 3D Surround Sound. I have played with it, and this now allows me to conclude some finding.

Virtual Surround Systems supported by PowerDVD7:
  • TruSurroundXT with TruSurround, Digital Clarity Enhancement and TruBass
  • Dolby Virtual Speaker
  • CyberLink Virtual Speaker
To test this out I used the opening sequences from Lost In Space (talking followed by lots of deep explosions and general space ship dogfighting), Akira (musical sequence with bike racing) and I watched the entire Animatrix (just to check my findings). I tested with my 2.1 Creative set of speakers and a set of old Earbuds.

All SRS Labs does is virtual sound technology and was the first company setup to specifically do this stuff so I was expecting this system to be the best. But it butchers the audio to an unacceptable extent. If I just talk about the individual features for a second. TruBass applies base to stuff that shouldn't have it, DCE which is supposed to make voices easier to hear dampens some background sounds and TruSurround's Base doesn't stand on it's own because it relies on TruBass. TruSurroundXT makes for a much better cinematic experience through the crappy Earbuds, but I would rather have the system turned off and listen to the standard Stereo audio than have the films audio track bastardised like it is with TruSurroundXT.

Dolby Virtual Speaker
The best system, I get that 'more sound' feeling when contrasting it with standard Stereo and the sound envelops me like when I am listening to a true 5.1 system.

CyberLink Virtual Speaker
Very good, similar to the Dolby, but some frontal sounds have more base applied to them than what is necessary.

Virtual Speakers aren't yet as good as having a true 5.1 surround system, the sweet spot from a 2 speaker setup is much smaller and somepeople will hear 3D sounds from strange places as everybody's ear channels are different with the 3D Sound Systems only mimicking the most common shaped ear canals and there are a few other things that the brain uses to locate where sounds is coming from that we don't understand yet. So all that is probably why DVD Stereo tracks don't come with 3D sound pre-applied. But for me I am going to leave my settings firmly on Dolby Virtual Speaker as I don't have the space required or the money for a 5.1 Surround setup. Also when I am watching a film at night I can now get a surround sound feeling, with just my earbuds!!!

Zelda Timeline

Joystiq just finished featuring a series of GameTrailers.com videos on The Legend of Zelda franchise. There are links to the other parts on Part Six's Page (I would link to the GameTrailers.com site, but the site sucks). Part six is separate to all the other parts so there is no spoilers in viewing Part Six first. And yes Part Six it solely concerns itself with The Legend of Zelda timeline as suggested by this post's subject line.

The proposed timeline sounds like it makes sense (not that I have ever played a Zelda game from start to finish), but Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages released on the GameBoy in 2001 where originally going to be representative of the Triforce and be three games, not just two.
I don't think Miyamoto has a grand scheme for all of this so I don't think any of this matters. What everybody should do is start asking real questions like, why does Twilight Princess still have MIDI music and why hasn't Nintendo moved to replacing the tedious text with voice acting!?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Told You So

I have previously talked about Damages Caused by Wii-motes and the possible business opportunities for for Nintendo to offer somekind of insurance package. And the first casualty has Been Dolled in the form of a 60" TV.

Wii UK Pre-Ordering

If you don't want to be left out queueing for a Wii come launch day in the UK. Get over to This Amazon Page at 9AM tomorrow (21st) and they will post one to you.

To me this is the intelligent way of buying a console, or maybe all those thousands of people who will be waiting outside in the old for hours on end not knowing if they will get one or not know something that I don't.

MIT Triforce Hack

Kotaku has information on an MIT Triforce Hack. If you want to know more about MIT Hacks then checkout This Presentation on the MIT World site which runs you thought when they started and a few of the cool ones.

The videos on the MIT World site requires Real Player, so I suggest you download Real Alternative instead.

Smash My Wii

Just like the other day with the PS3 launch the twats over at SmashMyWii.com have smashed a Wii for not other reason than to act like four year olds who have just rubbed shit on their fact and running around shouting "look at me look at me".


Been playing Gears of War, it is one of the top three best action games I have ever played and the best game I have played on an XBox platform. But whoever chose the end credit music deserves a good knee to the stomach. I happen to know that Megadeth after hearing about the game changed the name to one of their songs and called it 'Gears of War'. They even gave Epic permission to use it in the game.

So without any more of my subjective commentary I present the two YouTube links below. The first is Gears of War by Megadeth, and the second is the Gears of War end credits as it is (contains no spoilers).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Nintendo PowerGlove

The PowerGlove came out at a time where I wasn't concerned with gaming and I haven't really ever had much experience with the NES even. So the PowerGlove has remained a bit of a mystery to me. About how it operated, why Nintendo released it and why everybody hated it.

I have tried finding out information periodically about the PowerGlove, but always failed. Well Kotaku Came Through linking to a video that gave me all the information I was looking for and I am very surprised at how similar the glove is to the Wii-mote.


I seen this earlier on a few news sites, but now a Video is up on the PC Gamer Videocast Site. And this whole thing kind of validates for me what I was saying earlier about the PS3 buying line waiter not being hardcore gamers.

Essentially what happened is PC Gamer went to a PS3 launch event (Phil Harrison was there, have met him, he is extremely tall) and asked everybody who was in line positions guaranteed to get a PS3, if they would step out of line, sign a contract saying they would not own a PS3 and all in return receive a $7,500 kick ass computer for free.

The spec on this monster:
CPU: ?? (must have been a Dual or Intel Quad Extreme)
Video Card: Two SLI'ed Nvidia 8800GTX's with 768MB RAM (this is the worlds first retail DirectX10 compatible card, only came out a few days ago and only currently available in the US)
Case: Custom green flame design (I think this is a plus)

None of the people they talked to seemed to understand the enormity of what they where being offered and certainly none of them looked like PC gamers. None of them even bat an eyelid when the guy told them that the system had 2GB of RAM over the PS3's 256MB. Maybe he should have said 2,048MB Vs 256MB or eight times more memory. Well ok the PS3 shares it's memory between the CPU and GPU so technically the system has 2,816MB RAM in total, but needless to say anybody who turned the offer down was a fool or didn't understand what was being offered.

Personally I would be like "Hell yes, my system is four years old and I need an upgrade". Which is downplaying the whole thing because this is the most powerful personal computer money can buy, and you can't even build this thing without importing parts from the US. Plus it's 100% vista compatible and should run Crysis at a very high framerate with everything turned on.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Smash My PlayStation 3

There are some jerks that run SmashMyPS3.com who essentially setup a page asking for donations for them to buy a PS3 and smash it infront of people who can't have one or are waiting in line, just to be jerks. They will only smash said unit if they get enough money for two. Thus even thought they smash one, the hordes of detonators still pay for the guys to run away laughing.

Anyway their initial video of the act is up, expect another one with more of a documentary style in a few days.

A Series of Unrated Films

LionsGate has partnered with After Dark Films who do horror films, and they have both signed up a few cinemas that have agreed to show some unrated horror films. Normally cinemas as policy refuse to show unrated films as they normally upset people or don't comply with legal restrictions.

The big film fest is this weekend in the US and you can findout more at HorrorFestOnline.com. I am sure it is only a matter of time before something similar comes to the UK.

So anyway Apple is hosting six trailers of the eight films that will be shown and here are some links to them:

PlayStation 3 Launches in the US for MAXIMUM DANAGE!

I like the way Panney Arcade has put the US launch. But the idea of being left-out in the cold I think, is very symbolic of how Sony is treating the hardcore gamer in general. Although I do not believe that most of the people waiting in line are hardcore gamers, but instead normal consumer whores who will buy into any hyped product. I think most hardcore gamers going going to wait until early 2007 to get one or have already bought one off of Amazon months ago.

Gamasutra asked a shit load of developers Are You Buying a Wii or PS3, needless to say the vast majority say Wii and then give a slight jab at Sony's PS3 strategy/attitude.

Here is just one of the launch line interview videos:

And to be a bit more optimistic here is a launch that did go well:


I wish I could do backflips.

Police Brutality

In the University of California Library students are asked to produce ID cards after 11pm.
Tabatabainejad was walking with his backpack toward the door when he was approached by two UCPD officers, one of whom grabbed the student's arm. In response, Tabatabainejad yelled at the officers to "get off me." Following this demand, Tabatabainejad was stunned with a Taser.
I think this is a clear cut case of police brutality, Here is the University Article on the Incident and below is the video:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random Thought

Everybody has bad dreams where they are dieing or in a situation where they could die. These dreams are terribly unpleasant and I wonder wither it is the memory of these experiences from our dreams which create the so called survival instinct for when we are awake.

I justify this by the very fact that survival situations are very rare and that means experience with such situations and the knowledge to handle them is not given through day to day life. So to instill experience in us, our minds create dreams which forces us into those situations. Thus giving us the experience and it is in fact the memory of these dreams that gives us a survival instinct.

360 and Wii Going to do Just Fine

Been watching a lot of the videos of 150 people queues outside stores in America and I am thinking that come December the fact that Sony hasn't been able to provide is going to sell a lot of Wii and 360 units. I think that Sony will drive more customers away from their band and if they had of launched in 2007.

Hardcore Gammers Waiting to Shellout

So I am watching the below video of some American news footage on Kotaku and the news journalist said "Hardcore gamers are waiting to shellout for the PS3" (ok not EXACT words) and that got me thinking. Because I don't think many hardcore gamers will get a PS3 at launch because hardcore gamers know that there is little to play on the PS3 and are probably too busy with other platforms to bother.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Student Exchange Trip From Hell

It is said that when the apocalypse comes all the people who have taken Jesus into their hearts will be taken by god and freed from this world. That leaves everybody remaining to fend for themselves and somekind of anarchy. But after reading Michael Gromek's Student Exchange Trip to America with Christian Fundamentalist host parents, it makes me question wither the apocalypse is such a bad thing after all.

It should be noted that throughout history people have always believed that the apocalypse will come in their lifetime, still waiting.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

PS3 Disassembly

Firstly if you haven't seen an XBox360 disassembled then you should have a look Here First.

Some Japanese folks took it upon themselves to quickly disassemble a PS3 and post the video on YouTube:




From watching these something becomes very obvious. The PS3 is a very difficult console to put together. There are a few silver cables that look like they need to be connected by hand and the whole thing has so many parts that it looks like production must take many hands.
Obviously the 120mm fan is why it cools so efficiently and quietly, it is a shame that the 360 doesn't have one too, but when you look at the 360's design you can clearly see that it has been designed for mass production with the arrangement seems to require little more than the motherboard to be fitted and it's case to be screwed on.
Sony said the PS3 was a complex system and that was an understatement.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Most Dangerious Road in the World

The MOST dangerous road in the world is the Yungas Road between La Paz and Coroico in Bolivia (South America). You can see that first link to read how dangerous the road is or checkout These or These images to see for yourself.

Here is a quote from the Wikipedia Page:
Because of the extreme dropoffs, single-lane width, and lack of guardrails, the road is extremely dangerous. Further still, rain and fog can make visibility precarious, the road surface muddy, and loosen rocks from the hillsides above. On July 24, 1983, a bus veered off the Yungas Road and into a canyon, killing more than 100 passengers in what is said to be Bolivia's worst road accident.
And I have found the road on Microsoft's Live Maps if you want to see exactly where it is. Which is really why I am linking to this because I think being able to fly around the earth with a 360 controller is cool.

Large Skate Ramp

If I went down this thing I would hurt bad:

Geometry Wars High Score and Five Rings

I have been reading The Book of Five Rings by Musashi Miyamoto (I actually bought a printed copy) and the other day I read "The Frame of Mind For The Martial Arts" from the book of Water and the first sentence of that section reads:
In the way of the martial arts, do not let your frame of mind be any difference from everyday mind.
and then he finishes the section by saying this should be investigated. So I being the gamer that I am fired up Geometry Wars.

I have been playing Geometry Wars fairly regally since I Got all the Achievements and Almost Beat My Highscore, but I have found myself struggling to get even one million points as my motivation to do better isn't there, but after reading Miyamoto's section on frame of mind I thought I would give it another go not thinking I would beat my very respectable highscore of 2,158,680 points.

Well after just one game I got 2,664,455 and I seem to be able to have a good run on my highscore now quite consistently. So the book might have been written in the 1600's but it's teachings are quite relevant.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

New Levels of Internet Evil

First there was discussion boards, then IRC, then personal websites, then Instant Messaging, then YouTube and other personal video sites, but now something even worse and yet more time consuming called Stickam has emerged. It is essentially Video Chat rooms made easy which I am sure will bring new time wasting opportunities to many people.

This kind of stuff I actively avoid. I don't use IRC because you are just talking to complete strangers and conversations are always guaranteed to be dumb. I don't Instant Message anymore because that just wasts hours talking about mundane stuff with main the problem being that most people will talk about stupid stuff just for the sake of talking because obviously if you are logged on and not talking to someone you know, you are upset over something and actively ignoring them .

The site is also good for voyeuristic tendencies so I am sure many people with personal pages and rooms will end-up having a group of stalkers that watch, but never interact and that is socially very bad.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

PlayStation 3 Launched in Japan and Resistance Fall of Man Reviewed Good

The PS3 has launched in Japan with the usual flair of Scalpers and Disorder, god help anybody queueing to buy one in the US on the 19th. Since the Wii is launched on the same day I suspect that will make things worse. Still the first guy in the world to buy a PS3 was Chinese, didn't speak Japanese, didn't buy any-games with his PS3 and was seen exchanging it for money just down the road, probably to some Japanese guy who will sell it for a big profit eBay.

Anyway Resistance Fall of Man according to IGN who has both a ">Written Review and Video Review is a killer app that is worth buying a PS3 for. Maybe they where drugged or maybe they have forgotten how much the PS3 costs, but IGN said they liked it and the 40 person multiplayer is sweet. I am a little-bit surprised by that because it looks just like any-other WW2 FPS, but with Aliens instead of Nazis.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blog Labels

I have been putting some labels on some of my archived posts, but by doing that it makes them showup as new posts in the blog RSS Feed and pushes todays stuff off. So I have stopped doing that for the time being. This blog has a large number of posts (1,566) and I am not willing to add labels to them all in one sitting and I am not sure if that is worth it. But I would like them all to have labels for consistency's sake. So as compromise I will probably do a few everytime I go a few days without posting just before I post something new.

Non-newtonian Fluid

A Non-newtonian Fluid is a fluid that responds like a solid when put under strain. Such a substance can be created with a mixture of Corn Starch and Water.

With this knowledge I am sure you can imagine the hygienics that would ensue if you where to ever fill a pool with such a substance:

New Version of Blogger

I have just migrated the whole Blog over to the new version of Blogger and the right navigation bar is no-longer pushed down the bottom of the page when viewed in FireFox. However all my post titles are underlined and I cannot find where that is specified. Otherwise I am happy with the changes. Like I can now publish posts instantly, make template changes instantly (that used to take a good two minuets), editing the Blog template is now easier and I can add post category labels.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Don't really feel like doing much right now (can't get a job depression related), but I thought these two bits where interesting.

Microsoft has released a closed survey (a copy can be found Here) asking people if they would pay for an Premium 360 Controller with rubber grip pads, a better D-pad and LED lights under the ABXY buttons. If I filled out that survey I would have ticked the "Hell yes, who have I got to sleep with to get one" box.

And Princeton has A Demonstration of Voting Machine Hacking which is presented very well. And even John Steward Has a Jab at the whole issue.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hacking Democracy

There is a HBO documentary called Hacking Democracy which documents the crusade of Beverly Harris and associates to expose the issues with the American electronic voting system. And I just finished watching it on Google Video, but is also available as a Torrent.

There are several brands and type of electronic voting machine in the US. In the UK we still use hand counting and paper based voting because it is a known proven technology, but the electronic systems in the US are essentially black boxes. The voter approaches the machine, puts in their vote and then nobody knows what happens until the central tabulator declares a winner. It is even illegal to have a look into how the system works. To me this stinks because I don't understand how something that is unnecessarily secret, can be trusted. The voter's vote should be secret, but certainly not the counting process.

Anyway the documentary exposes several critical flaws in the electronic voting systems that would allow real-world vote tampering without detection and yet nobody in control seems to be concerned by this. To me voting systems should always be in a regular state of review, but this documentary shows officials actually showing distrust towards an open discussion of the process.

And another thing. Don't be put off by the opening line of the documentary "America, the world's greatest democracy" everybody knows that America isn't a true democracy so that statement is like saying that a Double Decker Bus is the greatest Car ever made.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Apple Fixes iTunes

Since as long as Last Year since I started using iTunes, whenever I clicked the update podcasts button iTunes would use up 100% of my CPU (Pentium 4 2.2Ghz) just to download the RSS feeds for my subscribed podcasts. Then in version 7 iTunes started to not only use up 100% of my CPU for updating the RSS feeds, but also 100% of my CPU when downloading new podcasts.

Well in version they have finally gotten around to addressing the issue. I have always thought that it was somekind of unnecessary Do...Loop process running in the background, but I don't care now because it is fixed. iTunes still uses a lot of my CPU, but no-longer 100%! YAY!

Firework Fun

Just stuck my head outside and although I didn't buy any fireworks, the air is thick with the smell of gunpowder and there are sounds of explosions all around. There is stuff occasionally hitting the roof which must be the sticks from the rockets, but it's like being in somekind of warzone and I can even see a little bit of fog coming from the houses setting off fireworks.

Bonfire night fits in well with our modern consumer driven society, but the fact that it isn't a national holiday is a bit of a shame.

Happy Bonfire Night

I missed Halloween so I guess I can at least wish everybody a happy Bonfire Night, not that I am letting off any fireworks off or anything. Still Carl Franklin did an Amazing Halloween trick to greet Haloweeners coming to his house this year and he has a link to a video of his setup on his Blog Intellectual Hedonism. Essentially he used a projector and a clear projector screen attached to his door to achieve a very cool effect.

I went to the National Exhibition Centre yesterday to the graduates fair and talked to a few PR people. Nothing much to report on the job front, but I will do a big job hunting post when I find a job because there is a lot of boring stuff to talk about and I don't want to drag that crusade across these pages too much.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bursting the Wii Controller Bubble

I know a lot of people have high hopes and dream about the possibilities the Wii controller represents. I have reserved excitement because those Wii ads with GAP Models hiding behind sofas, rolling around and generally looking goofy are obviously not people playing any games. I need to see this stuff working otherwise I don't believe it. And this I have unfortunately learned over the years the hard way by following the work of Various Designers.
Many people have envisioned a true sword fighting experience with the Wii across continents and very real possibilities for applications for Serious Games to do with training. Well I am about to deflate a few bubbles slightly because the Wii Remote isn't what you think it is.

What everybody seems to think that the controller will do is choreograph motion made by the player directly into the game, and this does happen on pointer games that require infared input with the controller bar, but games that use accelerometer data don't which is a surprise to a lot of people. What Wii games do is recognise the orientation input from the remote and translate that into in-game commands. So in a sword fighting game you can swing from the right, swing from the left, block and thrust, but you can't actually sword fight with the in-game sword choreographing every motion made by the real world remote.

Actions like swinging a bat in a Wii game are event triggered just like they are with a traditional gamepad's button press, analogue input through a stick or even an analogue trigger. The player performs a motion and the game activates the corresponding in-game event.

This is mentioned in Ryan Garside's bit-tech Preview where he talks about how quick wrist flicks respond to stronger arm motions than real strong arm motions like those with ball bowling. Matt Casamassina's IGN Blog mentions this too. He praises WII Sport's Bowling game, allowing the player to control when the ball is released and the ability to spin the ball, but I have watched videos of the game being demonstrated and it isn't possible to aim the ball in any diagonal direction direction. So again choreographed motion captured motion of the player bowling the ball isn't there. Motion is not translated directly into the game as you would think, but is instead a rasterized interpretation of the action being preformed.

So not what a lot of people had assumed, but still nifty. And Nintendo isn't marketing the Wii at hardcore gamers anyway so you got to give them a lot of credit for that. My Mum wouldn't buy one but someone else's Mum might.