Sunday, January 20, 2008

fresh from japan

Build your own coin sorting automation
the more elaborate the cooler

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Urg PS3 not immune to crashing

Just went to online account management, change my residential address, entered password.... and it was taking a long time to respond, so I X'd and cancelled. FROZEN. Hmm... guess Sony has been taking some cue's from MS operating systems... On the bright side, the buttons are futuristic, and the unit runs quieter than my powerbook laptop. Its virtually silent. I don't even think it has a fan!

Monday, January 07, 2008

I broke, and finally got a next gen console.

And its a PS3. Sorry xbot fans, the PS3 won out. Why? Well, we can go into the nitty gritty details, but I'll leave that for the tokyopia forums. Basically, with all things equal, both of the consoles were pretty tied for my attention lately, which is to say, I wanted neither of them. None of the games excited me enough to care. But x360 has red ring of death problems. And you have to pay to get online. And their games are region locked, leaving me to only play US games if I had a US xbox, and god knows the pain and suffering I heard from others who imported a US box to japan, if that isn't just inviting M$ to shit into your mouth, I dunno what is. Also, I heard that as a media player, the ps3's OS is much superior, plus I can install linux if I wanted to, plus it has a bluRay player. Sorted. So when a game finally came around that interested me, (Rock Band baby!) and it was offered on both platforms, the choice was simple. So I got the cheapest one, since I couldn't care less for more USB ports or bigger HDs or the ability to play ps2 games or SuperCDs whatever the heck those are. I got the white coloured one, because its cool, and because it reminds me of my mac. and it would match my mac peripherals. plus black is so yesterday. So here are my first impressions: PS3 Pros: Interface is SLICK, I mean, ipod like slick. The setup was a breeze, the first thing it asked me was to plug in my controller via the usb cable. Without using any language. Very thoughtful. Then it asked me to select ( with my now charging wireless controller ) what language I wanted to use. Nice. Next date/time, and then thats it. Changing the display res and audio setup was simple too, with thoughtful pictures of the cable connections. I wish I had this in the ps2 days when I had no idea what a D component connector was (only used in Japan). The controllers are smart. No batteries! This is awesome. I can't tell you how much this impresses me. I've always been one to HATE batteries, as they are expendible, wasteful, and just a pain in the arse. ps3 controllers are wireless, and have their own internal Li-ion rechargeable batteries, and if you unplug them from the usb connector, they will use their batteries. Running low on juice? Plug them into a standard usb cable to your ps3 or even your computer, and they charge. And best of all, you can use them while they are charging via cable! Unlike the x360 controllers which use clunky AA battery compartments or chargers that require the controller to be connected to a dock. Even the Wii controllers, as cool as they are, do not have such an elegant charging solution. (correct me if Im wrong, but I remember a big ugly bulge on the x360 controllers for the 2 AAs they reqiure... ick. Also great about the controllers is the ease of connecting/disconnecting them. Want to switch who is player 1/2? Hit the PS button, disconnect #1 and #2, and press them again in the new order. I don't know how this is done on 360, but on Wii, you need to go through a point and click menu to disconnect controllers, not a big deal, but unnecessary menus for something that requires none. Built in Azureus as a media server! Very cool. Also built in browser, but I wonder how useful that would be** General interface elegance. None of the silly tabs filled with flyer like ads and confusing columned text that reads like a tabloid as seen on the x360. This black background with waterflow interface looks the part of sophistication, not colourful, kitchy or tacky. Wireless LAN! Sweet. Asked me to hook up to LAN. Chose wireless. It found my network. Entered the WEP Password. Done. No hassle. I was online just like that. bluetooth! paired up with my mac's wireless keyboard without hitch. sweet. Could not pair up with my mac's mouse though, not so sweet. (everytime it got to the part where I had to enter a number code, it would fail. I don't know how it expects my mouse to be able to enter a number code anyhow. ) Cons: Can't pair with my mouse, as mentioned, else would be a rockin replacement for my couch side surfing. While trying to post this blog using the browser, it got as far as this posting page, and came up all blank on the ps3 browser. blogspot must not be compatible. Booo. Now, since Rock Band was all sold out, and I am waiting for it to get back in stock, I had to get SOME game to try out on the ps3, and what better than GT5 Prologue. Keep in mind, I haven't played Forza2, but have seen many screen shots, and thought that Forza looked better than GT5 in terms of graphics. GT5 Prologue: Pros: I have changed my mind after seeing GT5 in the flesh. You ever look at some pictures of a motorcycle, and think it was ugly until you see it in person, and it completely changes your mind? Same thing happened here. While on comparison posts on tokyopia, I was agreeing that Forza looked better. The GT5 shots looked heavily contrasty, and blown out in terms of exposure, while the forza shots had bright colours everywhere. Well, folks, without seeing forza in the flesh, I can't say for certain yet, but I think that forza has the kind of graphics that will impress when viewed as a still frame picture. The kind that looks fake in real life, because in real life... our eyes really CAN'T see such a dynamic range. The gritty, contrasty GT5 looks much more real to life, as when you are driving in the sunlight, colours get dulled by sunglare, and the shadowed areas look completely black, but once you drive into the dark areas, and give your eyes some time to adjust (not your real eyes of course, as it is simulated by the game) the dark areas brighten up a bit, just as it would in real life. The shadows and white balance really look great, and I think the folks at Polyphony really did a good job modeling the different colours of light. IE, on cloudy days, everything looks bluish, on sunny days, things look more yellowy. It really fools your eyes into thinking that you are looking at real pictures and not a game. I'll be interested in seeing Forza in action.... for if my suspicions are correct, and their in game shots are all like the bright sharp and ever colourful screenshots posted on the net... Another great thing, ( thanks Sony ) is the bringing back of RUMBLE! Otherwise known as DualShock. I've ALWAYS been a proponent of dualshock over the lamo vibration of the xbox system and current x360 controllers. Even the Wii controllers just have a basic vibration. Those of you who have used dualshock and played games like metal gear or GT series know the difference. The use of 2 very different weighted vibrators on opposite ends of the controller make for a realistic, lobsided rumble effect, which makes the little sextoy-like buzz of x360 or wii controllers pale in comparison. Okay, so its not force feedback, but I appreciate when I can tell the difference between running over gravel or the ridged edges of the track.. Where on xbox, ( playing Project Gotham ) it always felt undifferentiable with the lamo cell phone buzz. Awesome real life shots/vid clips introducing each track! Really gets you into the racing mood. Especially cool were the shots driving through Tokyo Shuuto and rainbow bridge. For folks like me who ride around on my motorbike a lot, it was very nostalgic to see the familiar junctions while going around shibakoen! Also there was a shot taken in crowded shibuya... I recognised the lamppost flags advertising the Mooooovie International film festival, which places that video clip to around summer last year (I think?) Online game manual. Very cool. Cons: The details! Perhaps because everything else in the game look so realistic, somethings that break the illusion irked me. Such as the flags waving in the wind in the London track. They all waved the same way, with the same direction. Even though flags were on opposite sides of the road. I think they should just leave them hanging, until the cars blow past to disturb them. That would be aweseome. No car damage. Oh well. Would have been nice, but I'm used to this being a long time GT series player. Its about the race, not about how wrecked you can get your car. Jaggies! even in high res, doesn't look like the folks at Poly used any antialiasing routines. though very sharp and excellently modelled, the cars in the showroom still have aliasing around straight lines. boo. General Con: Found out that my Sharp Aquos doesn't support 1080p! Only 1080i ! waaaah. well, more reason for me to get a bigger better TV for next time. With my PS3 acting as the new media hub, and the mac mini dedicated to an azureus media server its a setup that is bound to rock. Overall: If you are looking for a excellent media hub, that supports all the major codecs (even divX!) and has a great OS, sports a bluray player to handle your movies, then look no further. If you are more interested in a larger selection of games at present, then go for xbox, if you want to get the girls excited to come over to your house, get a wii. djc out.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Honda, my trusty companion

Got back from half a month of vacation today, and was met with a surprise when I tried starting up the bikes after sitting in the garage for all this time. The trusty honda started on the second try with choke on... while the KTM required about 10 goes, with and without choke. When it finally started, I was surprised to find out that the front brake was dead, the fluid must have leaked our and evaporated. :-( KTM may have all the performance, but nothing beats honda in terms of reliability.