On search engines

06/11/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

For the last article, I'd remembered reading a Wired review of GTA 4. I'd not bookmarked it so when I wanted to reference it, I went back to Wired and tried to use their search engine to locate it. None of the standard searches like "Grand Theft Auto", "GTA", "molotov cocktail" and so forth returned the article. In the end I gave up and went Googling; that returned the correct article as the first hit.

It's a bit sad when a the search engine used by a prominent IT-focused publication on its own site is less effective than a third party one.


The best racing game that's not on a PC

06/10/08 | by Adam | Categories: Games

Link: http://www.wired.com/gaming/gamingreviews/commentary/games/2008/05/gamesfrontiers_0506

A couple of weeks ago I found a review of a new game that sounded like a sure thing for our periodic weekend PC gaming sessions:

"There are 15 different modes of online play, most of which are pretty good. One clear winner is [...] Race, which blends car racing with combat: You can assault one another's vehicles, and even carjack one another. The result is exquisite madness, with drivers jumping out of wrecked compact cars and in 18-wheel trucks, then tearing off down crowded sidewalks while followed by lowriders hurling Molotov cocktails. If, like me, you're a subpar driver, you can simply abandon the goal and become a machine of revenge -- setting up a roadblock, waiting for other drivers to approach, then blasting them to pieces. This is food for the soul.

In previous years, we'd been addicted to racing games like "Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed" and Microsoft's unparalleled "Midtown Madness". Both are unfortunately rather long in the tooth but we've never found anything to replace them for sheer multiplayer fun.

When I saw the review, I figured we had a winner. The game described above is of course Grand Theft Auto IV, and I went out the following day to pick up a copy. What I hadn't thought of -- given the game's heritage -- was that it was yet another console-only release.

Oh well. Guess I'll still have to keeping looking for that next one game, although maybe the parameters of the search may well be changing...


Hm, shipping's a little high

06/08/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

I'm not sure that a $55 shipping cost on a single CD from the US to Canada is really warranted. Bad Blizzard!


Hit By Zoo Data Migration Errors

06/07/08 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Programming

I took a half-day holiday to go to the Calgary Zoo with my wife, my baby and some friends.

At the gate, when I presented our three membership cards, I and I alone was hit with my card 'coming up with an error'. Apparently, when the zoo switched its systems, some of the data "didn't make it" (this was the explanation at both the booth and Membership Services).

Now data migrations can, indeed, be a nightmare, but you test, and you hedge your bets by keeping the old data around somewhere, just in case. It was a little aggravating that it was a "known problem" and they had not gone the extra mile and tried pulling in the data that they missed, but so be it.

What was more unforgivable was that, though it was not my fault, the gal working the ticket booth, despite the membership card trouble not being my fault, despite my other family members' cards working, despite us being in a group, and despite busloads of children arriving in droves, she did not apologetically let me through, but rather, despite explaining the circumstances (and having the other members of our group already in the Zoo), sent me back to the membership services to wait for the better part of half an hour to sort out my card.

People, if you are going to screw up a data migration and decide to just handle the "oops" cases manually, tell your staff not to inconvenience the hell out of the people that you let fall through your data cracks for your own convenience. It's rude.


Sony's PS3 is a energy-sucking hog

06/06/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://www.choice.com.au/viewArticle.aspx?id=106346&catId=100245&tid=100008&p=5&title=Computers%27+energy+costs

Well, I guess it doesn't qualify as a EnergyStar compliant device. The article being referenced all over the place (Gizmodo, Gizmodo UK, Wired) is that a Sony PS3 running 24/7 software (like Folding@Home) will chew up as much energy as five fridges over the course of a year. Gizmodo comments that this means you're effectively donating about $250USD to outfits like Folding@Home a year. The energy consumption for when in use isn't too surprising; what is that even when idle, it's almost as much. At least when it's off in standby mode, it's not that bad.

Take a look at the chart; it makes for some interesting reading.

(Earlier related post here.)


Privacy and Facebook

06/05/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://news.wired.com/dynamic/stories/C/CANADA_FACEBOOK_PROBE?SITE=WIRE&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2008-05-31-18-15-24

Out in Ontario, some students are suing Facebook for privacy infringement. The (non-legal) synopsis of the argument is that Facebook is granting full access to private and protected information to third parties without permission.

Full story »


Skewed views of relationships

06/04/08 | by Adam | Categories: Whining

Link: http://gizmodo.com/393980/how-my-wife-castrated-my-dvd-collection

The link is to a tongue-in-cheek Gizmodo post about one of their writers throwing away DVD packaging on the request of his wife. Nothing too special there; what is interesting is in the pages upon pages of responses in the comments section.

Those are indeed some seriously worrying individuals...


Article writing 101

06/03/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7417496.stm

Bad BBC. If you're going to have a headline reading:

Web users 'getting more selfish'

and a lede that reads:

Web users are getting more ruthless and selfish when they go online, reveals research

it would probably make sense to actually include the quoted phrase in the article. Go look at the link and see if you can find it; I couldn't. The headline and lede are pretty negative choices of words, especially given how the article itself is quite non-controversial. It's about the fairly obvious conclusion that most web-surfers object to having their time wasted with unnecessary bumpf:

Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave.
Web users were also getting very frustrated with all the extras, such as widgets and applications, being added to sites to make them more friendly.


Well, darn it... Again.

06/02/08 | by Adam | Categories: Music

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_of_This_Earth_(The_Damned_album)

Another day, another duplicated Amazon purchase.

So, who knew that there'd be two CDs with entirely different names and cover art but with exactly the same track listing? This time it's The Damned taking the non-obvious duplication prize with "It's Alright Jack And The Beanstalk" and "Not Of This Earth." Wikipedia, font of all true knowledge (so long as it's not controversial) has the low-down.



The Vacuous "Good Person" Test

06/02/08 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Religion

On a website registered to Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, the "Good Person Test" is a textbook example of that particular kind of monochromatic religious reasoning that just falls down under light dissection. It aims to gently but firmly pinch you by the nose and lead you down a path to a conclusion by following steps a little past the reasonable so that, by swallowing the story in smaller chunks, you might think that the conclusion, in retrospect, was inescapable.

Perhaps people taking the test might mistake their uneasiness at each question for guilt. It's not guilt. It's that same feeling you get when your bus driver has gone off-route, and you are wondering whether they know what they're doing. That's the human cheat-detection apparatus registering a mild alert.

Let's see what's in store for us, shall we?

Full story »


Plugless ZEV

06/01/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://www.engadget.com/2008/04/24/miras-h4v-plugless-plug-in-hybrid-is-surprisingly-clever/

Unless the designer is using significantly different battery technology, this design for a plugless zero emissions vehicle isn't terribly clever (pace Engadget's headline); anything the size of the batteries in the picture is going to be horrifically heavy and unmanageable for most people.

Back to the drawingboard, guys.


The death of the gaming desktop PC

05/31/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Games

Link: http://gizmodo.com/392555/question-of-the-day-are-desktops-dead

A discussion similar to the one linked to over a Gizmodo came up the other day while at a gaming session with some friends. After spending thousands of dollars on killer hardware and hundreds of hours on installation, configuration, patching and troubleshooting, we came to the conclusion that, basically, the gaming desktop had no future. It's not going to be replaced by an uber-laptop, but by the games console.

Full story »


Bluetooth speakers

05/30/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://gizmodo.com/391979/logitech-adds-to-pure+fi-speaker-range-with-bluetooth-mobile-version

Well, it appears that Logitech gets it. I do wonder when other vendors will start to implement A2DP on their Bluetooth-capable devices.


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